Have you ever seen one of those TV nature shows about lions and their prey? On the TV screen we see hundreds of innocent wildebeests standing there innocently while a lion quietly prowls on the edge of the herd looking for the weaker ones. The lion waits and watches. A few of the wildebeests look up and sniff the air, sensing that something isn’t right. A sense of unrest permeates the air. And then, at just the right moment, the lion starts running towards the pack at high speed. This sets them all in a frenzy and they start running – all of them – in the same direction. Unfortunately, there are always a few stragglers. They are sickly, or weak and old, or perhaps young and naive. We watch as the lions chooses his prey and then pounces on it. His powerful claws rip into its fur and take it down to its knees. And then he uses his powerful jaws to kill the poor, innocent creature. About that time, they break to commercial and we are left feeling sad and sorry for the ill-fated beast that met death so violently.
Did you ever think about why Peter talks about the devil being like a lion? I Peter 5:8 says: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
I think Peter wrote that because he knows that we are just like those wildebeests. Some of us are leaders in the pack and we are the ones that shout “run” and lead the pack away from danger. Others of us aren’t leaders but we are careful to keep ourselves protected by keeping our eyes open and staying safely away from the edges. And then there are those of us who just seem to always want to be occupying the edge. We are crippled and weak spiritually and we can’t keep up with the group. Or we are naive and think we don’t need Jesus to help us live on a daily basis, trying to make it on our own strength.
And then there are those who are weak just because of where they find themselves in life. Some are young and naive and need our protection from pride and foolish choices as they grow in discernment and wisdom. Some are old and weak and need our help to protect them from falling prey to things like depression, loneliness, and self-pity.
I know it is not very flattering to compare people to a great big bunch of wildebeests, but I find it amazing how God directed Peter to write that verse about the devil. We can never forget that the devil is seeking to devour us! He is setting temptations before us and he is spotting the weak and sickly Christians among us. And while he can never take our salvation away, he is trying to destroy our faith and render us ineffective for the cause of Christ. He is trying to steal our joy and our peace. He is trying to extinguish our gospel light.
The sad thing is we often allow him to do so, don’t we? We become so disenchanted with life and so frustrated by outward circumstances that we are often rendered ineffective. Or we become so enamored with the world that we lose sight of what is most important in life.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be one of those poor creatures on the edges. I would prefer to remain safely among godly Christian friends and leaders. I want to help encourage and protect. But it is only by relying on Jesus and filling our minds with His Word and praying without ceasing that we can elude the clutches of the roaring lion.