There is a great scene in the movie, Talladega Nights, where Ricky Bobby is forced to get into a car with a cougar (a live one). You see, Ricky’s dad takes a very literal approach to helping his son overcome his fears. For him, facing your fear = taming the cougar = getting into a car with an actual wild cougar.
Can you imagine what it would feel like if you looked up right now and there was an actual cougar in the room looking right at you?
Well, chances are, that will never happen. But God does say there is a lion prowling around hoping to devour you: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
Even if you haven’t watched the bizarre and disturbing Tiger King documentary, you still know that, if there were an actual lion prowling around your house or your neighborhood, you’d be crazy to not take serious precautions and be extremely watchful! Yet, as one author wrote, “Even amongst Christians who do believe in the devil’s existence, there is often a marked blindness about the reality of spiritual warfare and the nature of the enemy’s tactics.”
Talking about Satan can feel weird. In our Presbyterian tradition, we are much more comfortable talking about total depravity than we are about spiritual warfare. Talking about Jesus in conversation can feel strange and awkward, but talking about Satan seems weirder and even more uncomfortable! Sometimes we reference our “demons,” but, when we do so, it’s exclusively in psychological or rational ways, i.e., That’s just something in your head or to do with your past.
Part of my hesitation in talking about Satan as a Pastor might be that some people talk about Satan too much and in self-serving ways . People can blame Satan for the sins of their own “flesh” and choices. Pastors can reference Satan to validate getting what they want. But Satan is real, and he is seeking to devour you. If you have 4 minutes & 35 seconds, try watching this clip from The Passion of the Christ which illustrates what Satan’s attacks on Jesus might have felt like.
In preparing for the last sermon in our 1st Peter series, I’ve realized that Peter has talked a lot more about the reality of evil, and Satan’s work in our hearts and in the world, than I have. That’s unfortunate, telling, and a pastoral failure of mine. It’s one thing to miss or ignore relatively benign or incidental things. But it’s not good to not see a lion!
As you prepare for worship this Sunday, take some time to review these verses in 1st Peter which emphasize the battle and the ever present forces of evil, read and meditate on 1 Peter 5:5-14, and review the quotes and meditations below.
Yours in Christ’s love,
Quotes & Meditations
I often laugh at Satan, and there is nothing that makes him so angry as when I attack him to his face and tell him that through God I am more than a match for him. Martin Luther (1483-1546).
There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan. C.S. Lewis, Christian Reflections.
“Even amongst Christians who do believe in the devil’s existence, there is often a marked blindness about the reality of spiritual warfare and the nature of the enemy’s tactics.” David Watson, Discipleship.