Will you trust your own abilities, your own power, your own decision-making? Or will you trust that God’s way really is a better way?
It’s a good question. An important question. For Peter, it’s the most important question. It’s the difference between the Church as Mexican food and the Church as Exiles. Do you really trust God to save you? What does your life say? Are you living like a suburban American or like a Christian?
We want to push back on that. We want to say, Chill out, Peter. This isn’t that big a deal. We can do Church on the side without this full conversion. I can live my life according to suburban American values and still love Jesus.
Really? Not according to Peter. Here’s what he says:
“Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.” – 1 Peter 5:8-9 (NRS)
No. We’re definitely not going to say that. But there’s a truth in here we can’t miss. If you’ve chosen to commit your whole Self to follow Jesus, if you have been and are being saved, then you have an adversary. There’s an entity, a force out there that wants you to fail. The devil doesn’t want to kill you. That’s what we usually think right? Since we all went to see Paranormal Activity 3 this weekend, thanks to our love of horror films and pop theology, we imagine the devil as a fiendish imp hiding behind corners.This is where it gets weird: Peter says that we have an adversary – the Devil – who’s prowling around like a roaring lion. I know what you’re thinking – the Devil? Really? Are we going to dress Uncle Sam up in a red tail and pitchfork now? Say that suburban American culture is on par with some sort of latter day Satanism?
When we hit every red light on the way to work, we think, Man, Satan’s trying to get me down. I remember growing up it seemed like every time my youth group got together we’d pray that God keep Satan out of our meetings. As though with all the evils in the world, the Devil’s first priority was our little youth group.
According to Peter, Satan doesn’t want you scared. He doesn’t want you angry. He wants you comfortable. Drugged up.
You have an adversary that wants you coasting through your life, living on autopilot. Someone who wants you just to go along with the culture. To feel comfortable. To feel at home in the midst of toxic values. Because then you’re worthless. You’re safe. You’re not a threat to anyone. That’s why Peter tells us to keep alert. The Greek word there actually means sober. As in not drunk. Not drugged up. Think about when you’re drunk or high. You’re not thinking clearly. You’re foggy. You don’t make good decisions.
That’s what happens when we’re too comfortable in our culture. When we don’t choose to live as exiles. We get groggy. We don’t make clear choices. We can’t see clearly to choose the way of Jesus.
And that’s all the devil wants. To see us fail. To keep us from fulfilling God’s plans for us. We have an adversary who wants Beavercreek Nazarene to be full of a bunch of happy, drugged-up semi-Christians who aren’t making any real difference in our community. And I know you don’t want that. Anymore than I do. You’re here because you want to make a difference. You’re here because you want to be different. We can. We don’t have to be lulled into a false sense of security by the culture around us.