Our dog Roscoe sometimes wanders away from home, but thankfully he is smart enough to come back home or even smarter to go to Brian and Marianna’s home – friends of ours who live on the next street. Roscoe likely prefers their home to ours because when they watch him for sometimes, they feed him bison as opposed to the boring dog food we feed him. Dogs are smart. When we compare ourselves to animals, we sometimes compare ourselves to dogs because we like to think of ourselves as smart. More than a dozen division one universities have bulldogs as their mascots. We even call ourselves dogs (What’s up dawg? Where my dawgs at?) We don’t affectionally call each other sheep and there are no universities with the fighting sheep as their mascot. Yet the Bible compares us to sheep. The Bible calls us sheep not to devalue us, but to remind us that we cannot get back home on our own. We need Jesus, the Chief Shepherd, to bring us back to the Father.
As the apostle Peter closes his first letter, he reminds us that we are sheep in the flock of God. And because we are sheep we should resist the devil and run to being shepherded, in being cared for in community. While the Scripture encourages us to resist Satan and run to being shepherded, in our foolishness we are prone to the opposite – to resist shepherding and run to evil.
1. Resist Satan.
The apostle Peter wrote “Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him…” (I Peter 5:8-9). According to a Barna research study half of Americans believe Satan is merely a symbol of evil, but the Bible teaches us that he is an actual being who seeks to devour. He is not coequal with God, is a created being, was expelled from heaven, defeated on the cross, and will soon be crushed. But for this time, he is called the god of this age, and he is out to steal, kill, and destroy. The good news is that Satan is not the only one compared to a lion in Scripture. Jesus is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the One who conquers (Revelation 5:5). Jesus, the Lion who conquers, will forever silence the roars of our enemy lion. Because Jesus is with us we can resist the devil. We can resist the devil as we clothe ourselves in humility and cast our cares on Jesus.
2. Run to being shepherded.
We are sheep and Satan wants to destroy us, so we are wise to be shepherded by godly leaders who care for our souls (Peter’s emphasis in the first five verses of 1 Peter chapter 5). We are wise to be in community. The posture of “I will love Jesus but not the church” is absent in Scripture. We need community because of the suffering in this world and because of Satan’s prowling. We need encouragement, prayer, support, and love from the community of faith.
Yes, CoVid took many out of “the habit of gathering together.” And it is always tragic when sheep are away from a flock while there is a lion prowling around.