In Ephesians 6, Paul is finishing up a letter to the church at Ephesus. He’s already covered how amazing it is to be one of God’s children, what a difference it makes to our life and how it transforms our relationships with each other. He wants them to experience it more and gives them advice on how they ought to behave and how to treat others. Now he’s wrapping up with a couple of last minute instructions, and his advice is this: ‘Suit up!’
There is a conflict going on. It is all around us. It involves powers and forces that we hardly understand and we are not bystanders who might get ignored if we keep our heads down. We will need to be able to stand our ground against these forces, and we will only be able to do that if we are strong in God’s mighty power and that is only possible if we are wearing a full suit of his armour!
The only way I can really get my head around this at all is to imagine myself in one of the battle scenes from Lord of the Rings. Try it for a minute. Imagine yourself in the middle of one of those battles in the clothes you are wearing now. . . . Now pick your imaginary dead body back up, rewind the scene and give yourself a suit of armour and see how much better you fit in. . . . (I know, I only lasted about 30 seconds longer this time too, but at least we fitted in)
Now back to real life for a minute. I rarely see life in these terms. ‘Normal’ life around us lulls us away from any sense of urgency and drama about our faith and how it is lived out. I find that it helps to reflect on these images to remind myself that there is a real struggle going on right now. But we’re not fighting orcs and goblins. What is this conflict, and what do we do? I don’t fully know, but the passage gives some pointers:
Firstly – be strong in God – have confidence in Him, surrender to Him and allow him fill you, more and more, day by day.
Then the armour:
- Hold on to truth (or be held together by truth), because we serve the one who is the Truth, and oppose the father of lies.
- Value our righteousness. It will protect us, so let ourselves be covered by it.
- Be ready to bring peace wherever we go
- Have faith, the enemy throws doubt and accusations at us like arrows but they can’t get past our faith.
- Let Jesus saving power cover & protect us
- Allow God’s word to fill us and flow out of us
- and Pray. Pray lots!
And all this to do what?
We don’t have to escape to somewhere safe. We don’t have a quest to finish. We don’t have a war to win. That’s all been done; this is just the mopping up. God’s enemies are defeated and we are already in the Kingdom that won.
See you on the battlefield.