Christian warfare. The whole armor of God. What images do these expressions bring to your mind?
Used to, when I heard references to "putting on the armor of God," I envisioned a rugged, muscular Roman soldier, arming himself before charging into battle against an enemy doomed to crumble before the ranks of Rome's mighty legions. Or William Wallace, painted blue and shrieking like a banshee as he ran toward the conflict - F-R-E-E-D-O-M!
Then something in the Ephesians 6:10-20 passage jumped out at me. Stand. Four times in this passage, we are told to stand. And then, finally, we are told to pray, to keep alert and pray.
Well, an armed soldier standing (and praying) presents an entirely different image from that of an armed soldier charging (and perhaps screaming!) So this passage is NOT telling us to charge the enemy? To storm the gates of hell? To throw everything we have into pursuing and destroying the forces of evil? No, Ephesians is telling us to stand. Brings to mind the situation in Exodus 14, where Israel is fleeing the pursuing Egytians.
Moses said to the people, "Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent." - Exodus 14:13-14
Who's on the offensive in that passage? The enemies of the children of God. And who does the fighting, who defends? God himself. So what are God's children supposed to do during this melee? They are commanded to stand.
Another thing that struck me recently about the Ephesians passage is that the battle is not "out there" - you know, out there where Satan has his strongholds. Rather, the battle is "in here" - the battle is for my mind and my heart. It is a battle of schemes and authorities. My armor is constructed of things like truth and righteousness, peace and faith, Scripture and prayer.
It's almost as if God, fighting the battle for us, realizes that a lot of mess and a lot of dangerous debris are going to be flying around. He tells us to stand, to watch Him fight for us - and He arms us to protect us from the shrapnel of battle. There is a battle, a very real battle, and we are in the middle of the battlefield, a very dangerous place. But we are not allowed to flee. Instead, we are commanded to put on armor, stand, and watch the Lord's salvation.
One more thing about this battle. Have you ever noticed where this passage about the armor of God is placed in Scripture? It comes right after a series of exhortations on how we are to glorify God in our most intimate relationships - brothers and sisters in Christ, husbands and wives, children and parents, bosses and workers. Where will Satan's attacks come? The attacks will occur in our relationships at church, in our marriages, in our families, in relationships with people we work beside every day.
That's where life gets messiest, though, isn't it? At home, in our marriages and families. At church with other Christians. At work. That's where we are most tempted, when things get splattered with the blood and gore of battle, to run to another spouse or lover, another church, another job, anywhere that these crazy kids are not! And that, dear sisters and brothers, is exactly where we are called - commanded - to stand.
3 weeks ago