If I were to start all over having kids, I might name each one “Siri” so they would answer me when I called.  I’m just being silly here, but it does cause me to ponder the perils of being alone.

I am thinking about the African Savannah, teeming with all kinds of safari life.  There in the tall grass is a hungry lion scanning the menu.  He spots a herd of wildebeests and fixates on the one that lags behind.  

Why is the mangy beest alone?   Could it be that he is tired, or maybe injured or sick, or maybe he had an issue with another wooly wildebeest.  Or maybe he was concerned about catching hoof and mouth disease from the unmasked.   Any of the above would make him the perfect prey.

The cunning lion is not going to attack a beast amid the herd.  Too much risk of failure or fatality.  He wants the loner – the one without the others to come to his defense.  Easy pickings. 

So, the lion lunges, lacerates, and then licks his lips over his tasty meal. 

I am guessing, this is why the apostle Peter used the lion as an illustration.  He wrote in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober and alert. Your enemy the devil, like a roaring lion, is on the prowl looking for someone to devour.”  NET Bible ®

Peter tells us that we are the prey, and the devil is the apex predator.  Despite a world jam-packed with people, the devil is a picky eater.  He prowls about looking for a certain someone to devour. 

Who?  Like the lion, he often seeks the one who is separated from the herd.  This person isn’t meeting with and being with other Christians in a local church. 

Why might that be?  Like the wildebeest, maybe the person is tired – worn out by their last church – taking a respite.  Maybe they have been emotionally injured, disillusioned with the pastor or board, leaving a limp in their spirit; or maybe this person is in conflict with another beastly church member. 

Separated from the herd – vulnerable – the perfect prey for the devil.  He exploits that advantage.   He lunges and lacerates so that spiritually tender hearts are hardened, temptation goes unchecked and ethics are compromised.  This is what happens to the spiritual nomad.

The result: The bond between God and the believer is strained and icy – giving way to a meaningless faith, self-destructive behavior, broken marriages, and fractured families. 

And the devil licks his lips over his tasty meal. 

Oh, if that person had been with the herd, someone would have surely sensed the danger early on.  They could have intervened and closed the ranks.

The herd could have massed together and overwhelmed the devil with their prayers.  If one was injured, they could have surrounded him and protected him in his weakness.

We need each other.  We need to be with each other, whether we got the shot or not – whether our body has antibodies or not.   We need to gather with the collection of imperfect people called the local church – cause it’s the perfect place for us.

I have been part of a small church.  The community there was rich.  People cared and looked out for each other.  They prayed for each other when the times were good and especially when they were tough. 

They provided meals when folks were sick, or babies were born.  They celebrated the anniversaries and birthdays.  They did a great job of living with and loving on each other.  They stood strong because they stood together. 

I have also been part of a large church and found the very same kind of supportive community in a healthy Sunday School class or a Lifegroup.  

My friend, why don’t you return to the herd if you are currently away from your church.  Find one if you don’t have a church home.  It’s the smart thing to do. 

A PRAYER: Lord I am setting my phone to remind me on Sunday morning to get up and get to church.  Please help me to follow through!

This has been Jim Johnson and pickleheavenpress.com

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.