Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, [NRSV]
Equipment Issue Check List:
- Belt: What holds everything together? the Truth
- Body Armor: Righteousness: Living for God.
- Shoes: Ready to Running shoes, Walking shoes for relationships, Boots for building and going where others do not want to go to share the good news of peace (sticking point: Is peace always violent? When is defending the widow and orphan from the visiting resident alien or the rod to defend the sheep?)
- Shield: Protection from spiritual arrows and fire storm
- Helmet: Knowing and Remembering the power of our Salvation through Jesus Christ
- Sword: Scripture that speaks the eternal truths in contemporary situations. (God entrusts word with people not just marks on a stone.)
The Battle defines the Equipment
A sword is a weapon. It is not for passive show. It is intended to be wielded and used for assault and defense, thus two edges. The weapon is scripture, God’s word entrusted to us to be shared, to teach and restore. The Bible, for inclusion and exclusion; it is for clarifying the boundaries of our faith relationships and the world of evil.
God made the world, which included the presence of evil and called the crucible good.
This illustration’s focus is on the battle and then the equipment
Spiritual assault is to be the expectation, we need to have the equipment and resource to defend and share God’s goodness in the face of evil.
How might you define the equipment for Spiritual Battle?
What holds your life and faith together in the face of spiritual weariness? The US Constitution or the Bible? If both, which holds our greatest allegiance?
Who are the Good Guys?
Ok, so if we don’t have enough violence and fighting from within and from outside the church. We know being a Christian is not what it has been. One of the early mission statements I helped a church develop was “Proclaiming the never changing Gospel in an ever-changing world.” I was very proud of the team prayer, effort and study that went into claiming that statement for that congregation. I’m personally thrilled they still use it 25 years later. It is an obvious statement and yet it is one we struggle to believe.
We want things to stay the same from generation to generation. “If it’s good enough for Granddaddy it’s even better for the grandchildren.” Half of the statement is true and half is a indifference we struggle through in each generation.
One of the wonderful things I love about Rock Spring UMC congregation is that we don’t fuss and fight with each other. And if we do, we either work through it, learn from it and grow on, or we know who likes to complain and we love each other and grow on together. So many churches are confronted with so much internal division and distraction. I’m thankful we can be a model reaching out.
The Question: How to hold on to what it means to follow Christ in world that is radically changing.
This is the spiritual battle we face in the world, as a denomination and as individuals…at home, school, work, everywhere we go.
Look back at the text:
- Be strong in the Lord,
- Pray in the Spirit,
- Keep alert,
- Persevere one another/supplication,
- Make known the message with boldness.
Anyone can start buying tactical equipment: We need to know
- what the battle is and
- how to survive and
- how to prevail.
The battle is first, a spiritual one.
We survive in the strength of Christ, as a body, the church, as a people in covenant and prayerful, intentional studiers.
Our Goal is not new, it continues to be to share the love of God, the grace of Jesus and the power of Spirit to make disciples, for the transformation of the world.
I don’t want to battle, I’m a conscientious objector.. I don’t want to get messy, dirt, involved. I want to put my head in the sand and wait it out.
Paul is preparing the church to be the church at its beginning and we are to prepare to be the church in its present: