Beware: Adapted from I Peter 5:6-10. Help me, Lord, to humble myself under Your mighty hand, that You may exalt me at the proper time. I cast all my anxiety upon You, because You care for me like no one else can. I ask to be of sober spirit on the alert. I know that my adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But with Your power I can resist him, firm in my faith, knowing that all Christians in the world are experiencing temptation and suffering. Even if I must suffer for a little while, I know that You, the God of all grace, who calls us to Your eternal glory in Christ, will perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish me. I claim all of this with a joyful heart in the name of Jesus. Amen
This Scripture led me back to Raymond E. Brown’s insights in his Introduction to The New Testament, and Eugene Peterson’s introduction to 1 Peter in The Message. This prayer always humbles me. The phrase, “all Christians in the world are experiencing temptation and suffering” hit hard. Raymond Brown posits that the suffering is more alienation than persecution—he says, “Christian are suffering because they cannot live the way everyone else lives.” (Brown, Intro to New Testament, 711.)
Peterson’s interpretation of this passage helps me to expand my perspective. He applauds the way Peter handles himself in a position of power. He says Peter “maintained a scrupulous subordination to Jesus,” (The Message, 2213) and he goes on to say, that Peter
had all the makings of a bully. That he did not become a bully is . . . a compelling witness’ because ‘religious bullies are the worst kind.’
Rather, the apostle Peter allowed God’s grace to create in him “a brand new life with everything to live for.” (2220)
When I hear, “I know that my adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour,” I must confess I shudder. However, Peterson’s interpretation gives me a more comprehensive perspective:
Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. You are not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. (2220).
The word “beware” helps me understand the sense of alienation that Brown and Peterson explain. It is important to be aware that suffering is real for everyone. Some people will reject us when we profess our faith. Suffering will happen, but Peter wants us to know, it will not last forever. God is with us. Will we be humble enough to embrace God’s Most Holy Spirit in us? Will we seek God’s protection from any temptation to become religious bullies?