1 Peter 5:6-11
Like the Apostle Paul, Peter closes his letter with various exhortations but which all center around the first words, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you.” Peter is writing to Christians facing persecution; that reality is written into every line. He has told them the difficult truth that suffering is part of the Christian life as they walk about as pilgrims, sojourners, aliens, and exiles in this world. Their lives are rightly perceived as the direct opposite of the pagans around them and so also perceived as a threat to social and political order. Persecution is simply the natural and expected response to Christian doctrine and morality; that is, for the pagan, it is deserved, warranted, and thus justified. Jesus said, “The hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God” (John 16:2). This is the world in which Peter and these people were living, it is the world in which many of our brethren are living, and it is the world in which our grandchildren might live.
So then, what shall we do? Peter answers: “Cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.” Our Lord lived our life and knows our anxieties first hand: “He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14). No one can offer us the comfort that he can (John 14:18). And because he can, we need not retaliate or resist evil but commend ourselves unto his care. Perhaps no teaching of the faith is as difficult as this, but that is only a sign of how weak our faith is. We must take up the cross and follow if we will be his disciples (Matthew 16: 24-26).
In the meantime, we must be sober-minded and watchful. Why? Because we have an enemy called “the devil.” The Apostle compares him to “a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.” It is unfortunate that so many, even professing Christians, do not believe that there is a malevolent being who seeks to bring us to hell with him. Worse, young people today who have not been reared on Christian teaching believe in some quasi-spiritual “force” over which they have no power or perhaps even admire or worship. No wonder. A person must believe and worship something. It is Satan’s personal vendetta against the Almighty to use the world and our sinful natures against us to tempt us to all sorts of evil and thus ruin His creation. Peter warns us to resist him knowing that we are not alone, for our brethren face the same Adversary and temptations the world over (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:13). Our greatest solace is that it’s all only for a little while. We trade this life for eternity. Our enemies trade eternity for this life. We win.