Disturbing news for anyone who has ever been or ever plans to go to a zoo – on Christmas day a seemingly innocent visit to the San Francisco Zoo turned tragic. A Siberian Tiger escaped from her enclosure killing a young man and mauling two others. Couldn’t help but think of the warning from the apostle Peter - “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
How and why the attack occurred is under investigation, but one thing is sure -- whatever fence, barrier, or barricade that separated the helpless guests from the ferocious beasts was inadequate. If you’re going to get close to danger you’d better be sure you’re protected. The same is true is a spiritual sense.
Certainly one way to avoid that danger is to simply stop going to the Zoo. Chances are slim that a Siberian tiger or, for that matter, any dangerous beast will find his way down my street. But in a spiritual sense Peter seems to be saying the Satan prowls down every man’s street. It’s like we’re not at the zoo with protective walls and secure enclosures but at a petting farm where the animals are not harmless sheep and chickens, but Siberian Tigers wanting to tear me limb from limb.
What’s an innocent Christian to do?
Peter’s advice is short and sweet – be self controlled and be alert. Watch your step; be aware that danger is in the air; know that temptation can be around every corner. The apostle Paul gives similar advice - “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil” (1 Thess. 5:22, 22). We must be aware of the spiritual hazards that we face day by day. Sounds pretty bleak, almost like Dorothy and friends in the Wizard of Oz – Lions and tigers and bears – OH MY!!
But there is hope. Nowhere in Scripture are the warnings of a vigilant tempter not countered with the resources of a powerful deliverer. By the power of God’s Spirit we’re reminded that the prowling lion is resistible, beatable, and utterly helpless in the presence of The Lion. Another apostle sets the record straight saying, “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
It is a zoo out there, but thanks be to God there’s no enemy that the two of us can’t ward off!