1 Peter 5:6-11
6Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. 7Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.
8Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.
10And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. 11To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.
We saw yesterday that the author encouraged all Christians to be humble, as Christ himself was humble. Now he goes on: they should cast all of their anxiety on God, because he cares for them. This is true for us as well – God cares for us; we can cast all of our anxiety, our fears and our stress, on God. God is not intentionally putting people through times of persecution, or of stress and trial, but God is always there, and God always cares.
Christians should, however, stay alert – the author uses a metaphor – the devil is likened to a roaring lion, who prowls around looking for someone to devour. He speaks of the devil as the adversary of the Christians. We have been conditioned since Milton’s writing of Paradise Lost to think a particular way of the devil – the man dressed in red, with horns and a forked tail, who carries a pitchfork. He is the one we “blame”, “the devil made me do it.” This probably blocks our ability to really think of the forces of evil in the world in more global terms. The “enemy” is not some red-spandex wearing being. The enemy is the evil we see in the world, but more than that, the enemy is within us, our own tendency to selfishness, arrogance, maliciousness, anger, and hate. We must take responsibility for ourselves, and we must practice spiritual disciplines that keep us in touch with God, and looking within at our own souls and motives.
In practicing spiritual disciplines: prayer, reading and studying scripture, worship, sacraments, meeting and growing in Christian community; we are growing in faith, nearer to God. And we also grow in community with Christians all around the world, just as those to whom this letter was addressed were a part of the early church, joined with Christians in the then known world. As other Christians were their brothers and sisters, so other Christians around the world are our brothers and sisters.
And the author encourages those to whom he writes – bear up a little longer, for God is with them, and God himself will restore them, support and strengthen them. And God does the same for us – when life is hard; when things seem to be stacked against us; when troubles surround us – God himself is right there with us, to support and strengthen, restore and establish us. In him we can put our trust.
This section concludes with a doxology, similar to what we saw at 4:11. “To God be the power forever and ever. Amen.”