In the beginning, God created a garden that was really a temple, a connecting point between earth and heaven. And he created Adam and Eve to work as a priesthood within that garden-temple, to help lead the rest of creation from the wilderness outside into worship of the Creator.
But, we are told, a serpent from the wilderness outside slipped into the garden and proposed a different idea to Adam and Eve: instead of acting as the middlemen who collect worship from creation and then pass it all on to God — perhaps what they could do is just collect all that worship for themselves, as if they themselves were the top of the pyramid. “If you just assert yourselves a little bit here,” the serpent told them, “you will find that you will be like God.”
Adam and Eve had the opportunity, in that moment, to be alert and of sober mind. They had the opportunity in that moment to resist the serpent, to pause and realize that this serpent was actually the manifestation of an ancient, immortal evil: a spirit that had merely taken on the form of a hissing serpent, looking for someone to poison with the words of its mouth.
And we are going to pause here for a moment to notice something: it is interesting, is it not, that this ancient evil spirit — that we now call Satan, or the Devil — was manifested as a serpent? Why not a lion, or a dragon, or a xenomorph or some other monster out of our worst nightmares? Why didn’t Satan simply appear in his true monstrous form and just use terror to force Adam and Eve to follow him? Why didn’t he use his power to simply tear them to pieces and swallow them?
The simple answer is this: he did not have the power to terrify them or tear them to pieces. In the beginning, in the garden of God’s presence, the only power Satan had was the power of deception. We do not know what powers he did or did not have in other dimensions of the universe — that is none of our business! — but we do know this for certain: in the garden he did not have any power to actually hurt God’s children. All he could do was use his words to persuade God’s children to hurt themselves.
And that is exactly what they did: God’s children turned aside from their Father’s promises and believed the serpent’s promise that they could become gods themselves. But, of course, they did not become gods, they became slaves to the serpent instead.
Now, Adam and Eve repented, and their Father did come and rescue them from total slavery to the devil…but the damage was done. Adam’s heart and mind had been corrupted with this idea that if he just reaches out and seizes power for himself, he will be like God, and all the resources and worship of the earth would belong to him alone. And as long as that idea was there like a worm in Adam’s brain, Adam would be a danger to the garden and to himself.
So, to save the garden from complete corruption — and to save Adam from reaching out and seizing the fruit from the Tree of Life and living forever in misery — God drove Adam and Eve out of the garden. But even this terrible moment was not without hope: their Father promised that one day he would remove that corrupting worm from their brains, and they would be able to return safely to the garden and eat from the Tree of Life.
But in the meantime, mankind found itself in the wilderness, outside of the garden…outside the perfect protection of God’s presence. Not only did Adam’s children now have this worm of selfish ambition in their brains, but Satan’s power was also more present.
But here, again, it is interesting to notice that — even in the wilderness outside the garden — Satan’s power was limited. We see this in the story of Cain and Abel, for instance. Even though Abel also had that corrupting worm in his brain, he remained faithful to God’s Word and God’s worship: Satan could not use force or fear to stop him.
So what did Satan do instead? Well, he whispered to the worm of ambition in Cain’s head. We know this because, as Cain is making his plans to murder his brother, God tells Cain, “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Satan is there, hissing, whispering, coiled up like a serpent ready to sting — but he cannot act until Cain walks out through that door.
And, of course, we know that Cain did walk out through that door. He listened to the worm in his brain, he believed the serpent’s words instead of God’s. And so what effectively happened is this: Satan did not have any power to hurt Abel himself. All he could do was use his words to persuade Cain to hurt Abel. Cain chose to become Satan’s tool, Satan’s warrior…Satan’s slave.
And as the story of scripture goes on, we see this same pattern continue: Satan’s power is still limited to his words, his voice. But because mankind now has this worm of selfish ambition in the brain, people are far more willing to listen to him, because he is telling them things they already want to believe: that if they can just gain enough power they will become like the gods themselves, and the resources of the world will belong to them. And as more and more people consent to become slaves to Satan’s deceptions…his power to hurt God’s children in real, physical ways does grow greater and greater.
And this is why, later on in scripture, the prophets begin to describe Satan with ever greater and more destructive images: the serpent becomes a lion, a wild bull, a great sea-serpent…and by the time we come to the Book of Daniel the prophet sees these horrible visions of nightmare animals that are mutated and diseased and monstrous, each one worse than the last.
But the prophets were not saying that Satan himself is growing more powerful. They were showing how Satan’s power grows through his slave army of human beings: from individuals, to tribes, to nations, and finally to empires, each one that rises worse than the one that came before.
And the point of these Old Testament teachings was this: Satan himself cannot hurt God’s people, he cannot use force to stop God’s people from practicing proper worship. The only weapon God has allowed Satan to use is the tool of false words. And Satan can only use this weapon in two ways: all he can do is try to deceive God’s children into choosing false worship, or — if that fails — try to frighten God’s children into submission by sending his enslaved people and tribes and nations and empires against them.
And all this is what Peter has been saying from the very beginning of this letter to the Christians of ancient Roman Asia: God’s people have always been an embattled minority surrounded by hostile tribes and nations and empires.
This is why he started his letter by calling them God’s elect exiles: he was saying that his friends, living as God’s people in the midst of the Roman empire, are just like the Jewish people 600 years earlier who found themselves in exile, living as God’s people in the midst of the Babylonian empire, the greatest and most monstrous empire on the earth at that time.
And this is why Peter went on to talk about how his friends in Roman Asia are also just like the children of Israel during the time of Moses: refugees who have been rescued from slavery, who are now on a journey toward their true homeland. They are being built together into a living temple, built upon the foundation stone that is Jesus Christ. And that foundation stone is carrying them through the wilderness, threading them through the corrupted nations of the world.
And this is why, half-way through his letter, Peter shifted yet again and began to talk about how his friends in Roman Asia are also just like Noah’s family: having to wait patiently while Jesus builds the ark of his Church, surrounded by tribes and nations and empires that are already beginning to experience God’s judgement.
And it was during this part of the letter that Peter reminded his friends that, through their baptism into the Church, they are safe — really safe — from Satan’s ability to really hurt or enslave them ever again. Peter went way back into history and showed how, during the years while Noah was building the ark, God imprisoned many of the fallen angels who had enslaved mankind during those early days, severely restricting their powers of deception and domination, so they could not interfere with Noah’s project.
In the same way, during these years while Jesus is building his Church, God has thrown Satan into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore. In other words: Satan can no longer slither into the garden of God’s presence, as he was allowed to do in the beginning. On top of that, Jesus has crushed the head of the serpent: Satan’s mouth has been severely damaged, along with his ability to speak. At the same time, through the Holy Spirit, that old corrupting worm of ambition in the brain of God’s children is withering, dying: not only is Satan’s deceptive power restricted, but God’s children are less likely to listen to him when he does send his deceiving messengers out against them.
Peter’s overall point was this: through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God has brought his children back into the garden of his presence, just as he promised he would do. Christians within the ark of the Church are safe from Satan and his fallen angels.
However: the doors of the Church are still open. And they will remain open until the last possible second, so that every last possible refugee can be pulled in and saved from the rising flood. And, practically speaking, what this means is that Christians are safe from Satan within the ark of Jesus’ Church, but they are not yet perfectly safe from all dangers.
And this is why, toward the end of his letter, Peter shifted his imagery yet again: he talked about how his friends in Roman Asia are also like the faithful remnant in Ezekiel’s time, marked for salvation by the angel of the Lord, immune to condemnation, but not yet immune to suffering, not yet invulnerable to attacks and temptations by tribes and nations and empires.
And Peter’s point there was — first — do not be surprised when God uses tribes and nations and empires to test you and refine you, that is how our Father has always worked. And — second — our strongest weapon against the tribes and nations and empires of the world is the humble unity of God’s family. Ambition divides, but humility unites. Therefore, make sure that your elders are leading in the way of humility, and make sure that younger Christians are following their example.
So this is where Peter continues his point today:  Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
Last week, Peter finished by saying all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another. That is a family-centered humility, a humility that every Christian has the power to choose. That is the humility that unites.
But this week, Peter has switched to highlighting a different kind of humility…a humility that is actually forced on every Christian from the outside world, the wilderness. Peter’s friends in Roman Asia are being insulted by their neighbors, rejected by their families. They are being called anti-social enemies of mankind. They are being pressured to return to Roman values, Roman cultural norms. They are being humbled — they are being humiliated, their reputations ruined. They do not have a choice about whether they will be humbled by the world or not! — the only choice they have is how they are going to respond. Are they going to retaliate? Are they going to threaten? Are they going to repay insult with insult?
Peter’s answer is this: let them humble you. Let them reject you. Because you know the truth: your neighbors, your families, your former tribes and nations and empires are nothing but tools in our Father’s hands, tools that he is using to lovingly shape us into the children he wants us to be, children who will be lifted up one day to inherit the whole earth.
But this is where we have an objection, right? When we see that our business contracts are not preferred because we refuse to participate in corruption; when we see that we are not advancing in our careers as quickly as our colleagues because we refuse to participate in drunkenness other social-business activities; when we see the potential future of our children limited by a system that is set against the name “Christian” — is Peter saying that we just have to accept this? That we should not speak up or protest against this injustice?
…well: some places in our world do allow peaceful protest. So in those places Christians could potentially speak up about these things.
But Peter is not talking to empowered modern Christians, he is talking to Christians who live in a place that definitely does not allow protest. So it would be unfair of him to tell them to speak up; it would be unfair of Peter to command them to do something they do not have the power to do!
And so, out of kindness and grace, it is important for Peter to offer a way forward that will work for all Christians at every time and in every place.
And this is Peter’s way forward: Let them humble you, and instead of fighting back,  cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
So if, as a Christian, you are powerless, if do not have a voice in your society…that is okay! Do not lose hope! Because our Father cares for you. So: cast all your anxiety on him. He will protest against injustice far more effectively that you ever can!
But if, as a Christian, you are empowered, if you do have a voice in your society…be careful how you use that voice, that power! Remember how dangerous power can be — even in the smallest amounts. So if you do have a voice to protest injustice, make sure you do not turn aside and begin to rely on your own voice more than you rely upon the Father who cares about justice far more completely than you ever will. Make sure you do not inadvertently begin to feed that old ambitious brain-worm, the whispering voice within us all that says: “Surely God wants us to reach out and take and rule and shape the earth…for his glory alone, of course! — certainly not because we are seeking our own comfort…!”
It is so hard for us to evaluate our own motivations. It is so easy for us to assume that, if we take power, we will use that power properly — and that if a quiet voice in society is good then surely a louder voice would be much better. But Peter says…no. Before you begin to speak up; before you begin to raise your voice and agitate for the rights your society supposedly owes you; before you begin to exercise even the little bit of power you possess, do this first: cast all your anxiety on him. Pause and remember that you actually have nothing to fear.
And then, once the Gospel of Jesus Christ has cleansed your mind of fear, once your vision of God’s reality has been restored, then you will be much better equipped to respond in a godly fashion to these challenges: to speak with gentleness and respect, and even — perhaps — to exert the little power that you do have humbly and quietly, not lording it over the people of our world but being examples of what it looks like to cast all your anxiety on God.
This is why Peter goes on to say  be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
This is now the third time Peter has told his friends to be alert and of sober mind. This is now the third time Peter has told his friends not to panic, not to give way to fear. And Peter keeps repeating this because he knows that panicked Christians are more likely to forget the example of Christ and start paying back evil with evil, insult with insult.
The devil also understands the power of panic. That is why, like a lion, he prowls around roaring: he is actually powerless to hurt Christians, he is actually chained up. His head is mortally wounded, crushed by the Cross of Christ! He cannot slither into God’s garden anymore, like he could in the beginning. He cannot reach into Jesus’ Church and drag people out with his claws. But he can use his roaring voice — his human slaves, his tribes, his nations, his empires — to scare Christians into scattering like sheep.
Just like frightened sheep, when Christians hear the lion’s roar — when they hear the threats from their neighbors, when the system makes it hard for them to support their children, when government authorities come to arrest them — frightened Christians have the potential to lose their perspective and run. And some, in their panicked blindness, will run right out through the gateway of the garden into the wilderness where the lion is waiting to drag them away and devour them at his leisure.
This is why Peter keeps saying, again and again and again: friends, do not panic. When you panic, you forget to cast all your anxieties on the Father who cares for you. When you panic, you begin to reach out and grasp after power for yourselves. And that is exactly what the devil wants you to do. He wants to inspire fear in you, because fear is what feeds that ancient worm in our brains, the worm that tells us that we need to act, to strike back, to dominate, to save ourselves from oppression and suffering and injustice…instead of accepting that these humiliations are refining tools in our Father’s almighty, loving hands.
When Christians give way to fear, when Christians begin to feed that ambitious brain-worm instead of starving it…then Satan wins. He does not need to reach into God’s garden, into Christ’s Church, because the sheep are going to do his work for him. The more timid ones start running blindly around in circles; some of them run right out the door into the lion’s mouth. The bolder ones turn into rams, goats with big horns, and they start bullying the most timid sheep. Some of the shepherds take advantage of the disorder to set themselves up as kings and gods, telling the flock that they can keep them safe…as long as they pay and treat their shepherds like lords and gods. As a result, more and more of the flock begins to imitate those false shepherds: they begin to choose pride and self-preservation instead of humility and unity. And if this goes on for more than a generation or two…the flock breaks up, scatters in every direction, and there is a mass exodus from Christ’s Church — an exodus that is often led by young people who are completely fed up with the arrogance of their elders.
Those are the seasons when the devil feasts and grows fat. It does not matter that he is locked up in God’s prison, unable to hunt, because his victims deliver themselves to him. No need to even call Grab.
And I think that many of us are aware that this is the season Malaysian Christianity is going through right now:
Beginning in the 1970’s, there was a mass exodus of young people from the more traditional churches. They were fed up with the pride and domination of their elders. Many of them started churches of their own, contemporary, youth-centered churches, because those young people believed that the best way to attract young people is by being more modern.
But those young people from the 70’s are now in their 70’s, and many of them have become exactly like the elders they wanted to escape. They escaped from the worm in their elders’ brains…but they could not escape from the worm in their own brains. And so now their modern churches are experiencing the same mass exodus of young people who are fed up with the pride and domination of their elders. Except that, this time, young people are simply leaving the faith completely.
The short lesson for us is this: worship style makes no difference at all if a church’s elders have bad character — young people will leave. And if a church’s elders have good character, then worship style makes no difference at all: young people will stay.
And in the meantime, while all this division and disorder was taking place within Malaysian churches, many Malaysian Christians simply packed up and left the country, like sheep looking for greener pastures. They failed to understand that the pressure Christians experience here is all part of God’s design to humble and strengthen and unite his Church. Satan roared, using the voice of Islam and the voice of the government. Christians panicked. Fear blinded them to God’s greater plan — and many fled. In most cases, they left for places in the West…where the voice of the serpent is the most insidious, where the temptations of prosperity are very strong, places where their children and grandchildren are statistically almost 100% certain to leave the faith…
So what are Christians supposed to do during times like this, when the whole world seems to be panicking and falling apart in the face of the lion’s roar?
This is what Peter says: after you have cast all your anxieties on our Father,  resist the devil, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
The devil’s plan is simple: panic us with his voice, so that we scatter. Then he can devour us one by one, sucking us back down into the human societies we once escaped, back down into the empty way of life handed down to us from our ancestors.
How do we resist the devil’s simple plan? Simply: by refusing to be panicked; by refusing to be scattered. By refusing to forget God’s promises! and by refusing to forget that we are part of one family of believers throughout the world, and that we are all united by the same kind of sufferings.
Many of us think that, if we could just pack up and move to some other part of the world, we would find peace from this war against the serpent and his enslaved human societies. But this war is a world war. Wherever we go we will find tribes, nations, and empires, and as Peter made clear to us a few weeks ago: every tribe, nation, and empire in the world deliberately seeks out sponsorship by evil spiritual powers. Every tribe, nation, and empire in the world worships the serpent, and obeys the serpent’s commands. Every tribe, nation, and empire in the world is seeking out God’s children to devour them in sacrifice to their Dark Lord.
Now, sure, some nations and empires look less devouring than others. They look like they are more free than others, more in line with God’s ideas of justice. But those nations are actually the most dangerous, because their deception is the most complete: their counterfeit of God’s kingdom is so good that it is hard to tell it apart from God’s true kingdom; their counterfeit of God’s peace is so good that it tempts Christians to lower their guard and stop resisting, or even worse: to join those tribes, nations, and empires.
The short lesson for us here is this: direct oppression is easier to see and is therefore — in one sense — easier to resist. The call to assimilation is much more suble, and the devil’s victories go unrecognized because they happen so quietly.
Therefore, Peter says, wherever you are in the world, be alert and of sober mind: resist the devil, standing firm in the faith, standing firm in God’s Word, just as Adam and Eve were called to do. Our war today is the same war that began in the garden at the dawn of our species, and our Father’s strategy for defeating the serpent has not changed. We do not resist the devil by offering up great spectacles of exorcisms or healings. We do not resist the devil by changing worship styles. We do not resist the devil by withdrawing from society, or by trying to take control of society, or by moving to some other society that looks more peaceful. No: we resist the devil by clinging to the Word of God, and then by sticking together as one flock under one Chief Shepherd.
 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while — for just one short lifetime — he will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
To the Christians of ancient Roman Asia, the roar of the Roman empire sounds real. It sounds terrifying. But a roar has no power to hurt God’s children! — unless they start listening to it. Rejection is real; loss is real; suffering is real, but these things are strictly temporary, soon to be restored, made new, as if they never happened. But Satan’s roar is not real, it is nothing more than vibrations in the air, it only becomes real when Christians forget the truth.
And the truth is this: To him be the power — to God alone be the power for ever and ever.
 With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother —
— and this is the same Silas, by the way, who was also Paul’s good friend for so many years. It is Silas who personally delivered this letter to the churches in Roman Asia —
 With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it!
Do not forget the truth!
 She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark —
— the same Mark who most likely wrote the Gospel of Mark.
And here, with these closing words, Peter goes back to where he started. He opened this letter by calling his friends “God’s elect exiles,” reminding them that they are in a situation much like the Jewish people 600 years earlier, when they were exiles in Babylon, which was the capital city of the greatest and most monstrous empire on the earth at that time.
Now, that original city of Babylon — along with its empire — was nothing but a deserted ruin when Peter wrote this letter. No one lived there anymore. But there was a new city of Babylon on earth, a new capital city that ruled over another, greater, and even more monstrous empire: and that is the city of Rome.
Peter is writing from the city of Rome. He is sending greetings from the Bride of Christ in Rome, the Church in Rome, greetings from the very center of the monstrous empire that is busy devouring the entire world. Possibly he is in prison there, along with the apostle Paul, both of them on trial for their lives.
So, to outside appearances, the Church in Rome looks like it is in the most dangerous place in the world: in the very belly of the beast, already being devoured and digested!
But, by calling the city of Rome “Babylon”, Peter is once again opening up the doors of perception to show his friends what is actually going on: the Church is actually digesting the Roman empire from the inside-out. All history is God’s history. And so, even though these Christians look helpless in the grip of Roman might…they are actually just like God’s children in Babylon. And where is Babylon now? Nowhere. Gone to dust. And where are God’s children now? Still here. Still going. Still on pilgrimage, generation after generation, toward their promised homeland: the new heavens and the new earth.
So, in the meantime, as we travel, Peter says:  Greet one another with a kiss of love.
Stick together! Love one another as brothers and sisters in one family. Clothe yourselves with humility: stoop down and lead those who have been blinded in the battle. Do not abandon those who have been crippled. Protect those who are pregnant with new life, those who are nursing the new-born. Pick up the children and carry them on your hips, lift them up onto your shoulders so that they too can see our destination: the Mountain, and the great City of God, the River and the Tree of Life .
Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
So here we are, friends: God’s chosen, God’s children, who are also strangers in this world.
And to help us understand our situation better, Peter has used several different images from the ancient past, each one offering us a slightly different perspective: we are like the exiles in Babylon waiting for deliverance, we are like Moses’ people travelling through the wilderness, we are like Noah and his family building the ark, we are like Ezekiel and the final faithful few, being carried away into exile.
And for most of us modern Christians, these images are deeply unsettling. Because each of these images describe God’s people when they were at their most powerless: when all they could do was hold on to God and hold on to each other. These were the times in history when God’s people had no great, outward-facing evangelistic plan for bringing God’s justice and mercy into the world — it was more than they could do to just maintain God’s justice and mercy within their own families!
And we don’t like this sense of powerlessness, do we? Especially in the West and in the North, in the territories of the ancient Roman empire, where for many centuries Christians have felt like they had a true voice in their societies, a real chance to claim the earth for Christ. Christians have gotten used to having power in the West. And in the last 50 years this sense of Christian empowerment has spread like wildfire to the South and to the East, and a lot of us have just gobbled it up because Western Christians are telling us things that we already want to believe: we want to believe that if we could just take power over our nations, we would use that power properly; we want to believe that if a quiet voice is good, then a louder voice must be better; we want to believe that we really can bring peace on earth.
But Peter’s letter tells us clearly that peace on earth is beyond our power as exiles. We are the refugees here, not the rulers! And, in fact, history is showing us right now that the more we succeed in ruling the more we actually fail to lead people into proper worship: the more justice and order and prosperity we bring to our nations, the easier it becomes for people to put their faith in themselves instead of God.
Friends, look to the West and see the flames that are consuming those societies today! That is the end result of this philosophy of Christian empowerment. Western Christians worked so hard for so long to bring peace and prosperity to their nations so that they could provide a safe place for their own children! — and now their own children have turned around and they are tearing Christianity to pieces.
So what are we supposed to do, then: nothing? If bringing God’s justice and mercy into the world just results in more damnation, should we just step back and decide not to care about justice and mercy?
No. From beginning to end the bible commands us to care about justice and mercy. We are commanded to love even our enemies, because our enemies are really nothing more than slaves to the great lion roaring at their backs, driving them mad with fear. And we are commanded to have compassion on slaves!
So how are we supposed to resolve this contradiction, then? On one hand, the bible commands us to care about justice and mercy so that people might be led to Christ…but on the other hand: the more we succeed at achieving justice and mercy the more people actually turn against Christ! How is that supposed to work?
Well, Peter has offered us a strategy that is so deceptively simple that we struggle to even see it, much less understand it! — brainwashed as we are by all this modern talk of empowerment and justice and human rights and all that.
Peter’s strategy is this: a simple change of focus. We are called to care about justice and mercy in the world, but we are powerless to actually achieve it directly. So: we achieve it indirectly. We do not start out there: we start in here, in the center, in our church. Because here, in the center: this is the garden of God’s presence. This is where the Holy Spirit lives. This is where the Tree of Life grows. This is where God’s justice and mercy must begin, because this is where the soil is rich enough to support these things.
Friends, if we are unable to cultivate humility and unity right here among us — if we are unable to use power properly even within the Church — then who are we to think that we can lead the world outside into the ways of justice and mercy?! This is the garden of God, where everything good can grow; the world outside is nothing but a spiritual wilderness: a prison for the devil and all his angels, all his human slaves, a desert where justice is always choked out by thorns and thistles wherever it tries to take root. This is why mercy and justice must begin here, in the center.
But what if we succeed, as a church, in actually cultivating God’s Spirit of humility and unity among us? Well then, that is when the rivers of life begin to flow naturally outward, and begin to reclaim the wilderness. History shows us that this is what the Christians of ancient Roman Asia achieved. They followed Peter’s instructions. When the empire humiliated them, they let it happen. When the lion roared, they refused to panic: they stuck to God’s Word, and they stuck together. They cultivated humility and unity, they fed the poor, they adopted discarded babies, they ministered to people dying of pandemics and then they died themselves…and over the next 300 years they transformed the empire from within: they devoured the empire that had tried to devour them.
And to tell you the truth, our modern Church is still benefiting from that ancient victory. Those Christians of ancient Roman Asia suffered for centuries…and we are all here today because of their faithfulness.
May God grant that our descendants will be able to say the same of us!
So, friends, let us follow Peter’s instructions. Let’s stay alert. Let’s not be panicked by the lion’s roar. Let’s not be shaken by the impotent threats of Islam or government, election results or economic forecasts or pandemics or anything else, because — ultimately — none of that matters. All that matters is that we love one another, and that after we have suffered a little while he will himself restore us and make us strong, firm and steadfast.
 To him be the power for ever and ever.