Glencairn Methodist Church
Have you got the right equipment?
At least in our neighbourhood September sees the start of the new school term. Parents, wondering how their children managed to grow so much during the summer, have been busy buying new school uniforms and the new equipment needed for lessons and for sports. No doubt the manufacturers of football boots and hockey sticks have been doing a roaring trade. It is important that our children are properly equipped for school.
It is also important that children and adults alike are properly equipped for life. St Paul, in his letter to the Christians at Ephesus, gives us a list of the equipment the Christian needs for life. He describes it as "the Armour of God" and his imagery was inspired by the armour of a first century Roman foot-soldier. Here is the list. There are seven items:
The BELT of Truth
The soldier used his belt to hitch up his tunic so that he would have greater freedom of movement. So too, having "the Truth" allows us to move freely, knowing where we are going. Those who do not have "the Truth" can only guess and stumble through life. Remember that Jesus said, "I am the Truth". If we know Jesus, then we have the truth about life and living.
The BREASTPLATE of Righteousness
The world is always watching the Christian to find flaws in our lifestyle. Yes, there are plenty so we need continually to be praying for grace to live righteous lives.
Sandals were the sign that the Roman soldier was ready to move into battle. The sign of the Christian is that he or she is eager to be on the move to share the Gospel of peace with those who have not heard it.
The SHIELD of Faith
The Roman shield Paul has in mind here is the big one that protects much of the body. It is specially made to catch and extinguish the flaming arrows that enemy bowmen would shoot at the Romans. Paul says, "Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one." When we encounter flaming arrows of temptation to sin, we have the shield of a sound and firm faith in Jesus to protect us.
The HELMET of salvation
The soldier's helmet only allowed him to see to the front, to look forwards rather than backwards. So too, Christians, Paul implies, should not always be looking back to the day of their conversion, but should be looking forwards to that great day of their ultimate salvation.
The SWORD of the Spirit
A sword, like a cricket bat, is both a defensive and an offensive weapon. The Christian's sword is the Word of God. Not only the Bible but also Jesus Christ. (Read John 1:1-14 to see the connection between "Word" and "Jesus".)
Finally Paul says that prayer is also an essential piece of the Armour of God. He asks the Ephesians to pray from him that he may "fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel. Prayer must be part of our daily routine.
Read about this in Ephesians 6: 10-20.
Ken (3 September 2006)