Whenever I read that verse, I can't help but think about a lion prowling up and down the aisles of a church building while a group of Christians are assembling. In reality, if an actual lion were present in the pews, there would be chaos (lots of screaming and running about frantically--not to mention what the women and young girls would be doing!).
I understand, of course, that I Peter 5:8 doesn't restrict Satan's hunting of Christians to the assembly. He will attack his prey anywhere and in any way he can. But, imagine with me what it would be like if Satan did visit our assemblies--not roaring loudly, but secretly. I imagine he would describe his visit to some congregations in much the same way as the following fictional letter depicts.
Dear Members and Friends of the church,
I secretly visited your Bible classes recently and was overjoyed to see that so many of you had not come. I heard some lessons that were not very well prepared and other teachers said no visits had been made during the week. I was simply delighted! It thrilled me to see some leave the worship service right after the Lord's Supper was over, indicating that they were not going to let the proclamation of God's Word come near to them. I saw some others come just in time for the worship--to sit glassy-eyed with their mouths shut while a few sang the hymns. Then they dozed or acted bored to death while the preacher went through his Sunday morning humdrum or "bore-atory." I was especially pleased to note how many failed to bring an offering or gave just a couple dollars out of their great plenty. I love to see the church in financial difficulty. Again, there was a sparkle in my eyes when I returned Sunday night and saw that so many did not come back for the evening worship hour. I was so very glad. I am writing this letter to encourage you to forsake the assemblies this coming week also. It will be more comfortable for you, and besides, it will make my work much easier to do. Hoping to be with you real soon!
Friends, where will you be this Sunday? Will your actions be pleasing to God or the devil? Will you be gathering with the saints to worship God and encourage others? "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Heb. 10:24,25). It is a tragedy that so many will be with the devil so very soon (cf. Matt. 7:13,14). May we do everything within our power to avoid that fate and help as many others find the way to life also! "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).