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We in South Africa are not unfamiliar with the rare, yet occasional, warnings about a lion on the loose. Media reports of an escaped lion from the Kruger Park or from some private game lodge are frequently followed by reports of rangers tracking and recapturing or containing the threat. Those in the area who had been apprehensively leaving their homes are then able to return to life as normal.

Lions, of course, are dangerous and caution about their potential presence is a wise response. Many years ago, Jill and I had a brief holiday at Marloth Park in Mpumalanga. As we checked in, I asked about the safety of running in the Park. Specifically, I asked if there were any lions around. The lady answered, “Well, there is an occasional lion that wanders in, but it is an old lion.” That provided small comfort. To me, a lion is a lion, whether pensioner or toddler.

Anyway, in recent weeks we have been made aware of two reports of escaped tigers in Gauteng. For several days, we followed reports of Sheba the tigress, who was on the loose in Walkerville. With several church members living in that area, I remained both curious and concerned, especially when I heard that a man had been attacked. Clearly, this was serious. In fact, our Grace Group in that area was cancelled due to safety concerns. Along with many, I was relieved when the threat came to an end. But soon thereafter, I read that another tiger was on the loose, this time in Edenvale. Thankfully, it was recaptured quickly but, still, such potential danger must be somewhat disconcerting. But, brothers and sisters, this rare threat from the animal kingdom is nothing compared to the real and ever-present threat in the spiritual kingdom.

Peter warns that the subjects of God’s kingdom—Christians—are the target of the devil who “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” We are therefore called to be “sober-minded” and “watchful” (1 Peter 5:8–9).

Though not unconcerned about those in Walkerville and Edenvale, nevertheless, because of where I live, I was not looking out my window or hurrying to and from my car while a tiger was on the loose. The threat was not one that directly affected me. But the devil and his ruinous ravening is another story. This threat is a reality to every Christian, and to everychurch. In fact, Peter says that this threat is universal, “being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”

The devil seeks to devour and destroy every Christian and every local church in everyneighbourhood. If we are concerned about the occasional physical lion (or tiger) in our vicinity, we should always be concerned about and alert to the roaring of the devilish lion threatening our souls, homes, and church. We are not to be passive in our concern, but rather to be actively firm and faithful. As Peter says, when we encounter the devil’s threating roars (of unbelief, persecution, dissension, malice, and temptation), we must “resist him, firm in [our] faith.”

Brothers and sisters don’t let the unbelieving secular world blind or deafen you to the threat of spiritual destruction. Rather, while taking God’s word seriously, walk both carefully and boldly. That is, take seriously the various threats to your soul, your home, and your church, while confidently resting in a greater fear: the fear of the Lord.

Watchful with you,