To the elders among you… Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care… All of you… be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:1, 2, 5, 8 (NIV)
When you come to faith in Christ, it is not just that you begin a new life. You also become part of a new community—an identifiable flock of God’s sheep, under the care of trusted spiritual leaders or shepherds.
The flock is the church, a community of believers in one locality who have been drawn together by their common experience of the grace of God in Jesus Christ.
One of the great blessings of the church is that you come into a relationship with others who care about your spiritual well-being. Peter speaks of elders as shepherds, called by Christ to care for the flock.
In Peter’s picture, there is also a lion. We have a dangerous enemy who wants to pick off and devour God’s people, and that’s why we all need to be self-controlled and alert. But Peter is not just saying watch out for yourself; he is saying watch out for each other.
The devil is the enemy of the whole group, and one of his primary strategies is to pick off someone who gets isolated from the rest. Be alert towards those God has placed next to you who may be struggling or wandering and in great spiritual danger.
That’s why relationships are so important in the body of Christ. Church is more than a place to come and worship for an hour on Sunday. It is the place where we build meaningful relationships in which people care for each other in this dangerous world as we move through life together serving Jesus Christ.
Are you part of a local flock of God, watching out for others and being cared for by those God has called to be shepherds?