A spate of ads on TV has promoted home security systems. An intruder gets scared away by a siren and a recorded warning voice. I have at times thought of investing in one. Yet not long ago I read a statistical study about gated communities versus those in similar neighborhoods that are not gated. Oddly, the crime rates were the same! Are we at times deluded in what we think will protect us? Granted, it is a good idea to have a backup system for your basement sump pump, but perhaps you don’t need a castle moat with crocodiles swimming around!
When I hear the writer of Ephesians call us to “put on the whole armor of God,” I easily think in military terms. Indeed, I can mistake the summons here to become like some spiritual survivalist living in a fortress or bunker crouched in battle readiness for we know not what.
Except for the “sword of the Spirit” (which is about boldness of witness), all the pieces of armor named in the text are defensive, not offensive. The point is not lost upon the Ephesians, who experienced military threat. Yet Paul calls them to arm themselves not against physical enemies but against evil. He encourages them to “stand firm”—to stand together as Greeks and Romans stand shoulder to shoulder in military battle—in order to resist the dark forces of a broken and often unjust world. Our togetherness is not rigid but flexible in its firm resolve to proclaim the good news.
How can I remain steadfast yet open in my witness?
Holy Spirit, strengthen me to fight the wiles of the evil one by making me pliable to your firm but gentle leading. Amen.
God had prevented David from building a temple in Jerusalem but then permitted David’s son, Solomon, to build it. In First Kings, Solomon places the ark of the covenant in the holiest place, and God’s presence descends. The psalmist rejoices in the Temple and would rather be in its courts than anywhere else because that is where God dwells. The New Testament readings remind us that the people of God have always met with resistance. The author of Ephesians compares living the Christian life to going into battle, so we must be prepared. Jesus also meets with resistance in John. His teachings are too hard for many to accept, so they abandon him. When we face resistance, therefore, we should not be surprised; but we are also not alone.
• Read 1 Kings 8:1, 6, 10-11, 22-30, 41-43. How does your faith inform your sense of hospitality to friends and strangers?
• Read Psalm 84. Is your joy in the Lord? How does your relationship with God help you through times of sorrow?
• Read Ephesians 6:10-20. How do truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and God’s word help you live boldly as an ambassador of the gospel of Jesus Christ?
• Read John 6:56-69. God came to us in a messy human body. How does your embodiment help you understand what it means to abide in Christ?
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