Message: In Ephesians 6Paul started offby directing children to obey their parents. The end of chapter 5 had been all about marriage and then suddenly Paul started talking about slaves and their masters. It’s difficult reading scripture commanding slaves to obey their masters because it sounds like this proves that God is or was for slavery. There were and are a lot of things that God is not for. For example, Israel wanted a king and God wanted to be their king. They rejected him so God allowed them to have a king. Slavery has existed since the beginning of time and when I read the footnotes in my bible it explained that Paul was teaching them that slaves had the same value and status as free men in the kingdom of God. This was the most important foundation to lay because they learned to see them as brothers instead of subjects. Their understanding of the value of slaves as humans and as brothers in Christ is what led to anti-slavery movements. I don’t believe it was any coincidence that immediately following this topic Paul went into the armor of God and the importance of clothing ourselves in it every day. We have all heard about the armor of God, but a few things that stood out to me today were in the descriptions of each piece.
- Truth is compared to a belt on our waist. As I thought about what a belt does I thought of two things. A belt holds up our pants and keeps us from the humiliation of exposing ourselves. Promoting anything other than truth is like getting caught with your pants down. I also thought of this belt like a tool belt that holds our necessary tools for life.
- When I read that righteousness is like armor for our chest I thought of the importance of protecting our chest. Our chest contains our heart and lungs. If our heart and lungs were to be punctured, we would not be able to breathe and would face certain death. In the same way if our spiritual heart and lungs are damaged, we suffocate in our unrighteousness and face spiritual death.
- The “preparation of the gospel of peace” is symbolized by sandals in this analogy. I hadn’t really thought of this before and maybe you have, but we aren’t ready to do anything until we put our shoes on. In the past my husband has even joked about not wanting to wear his slides just in case he needed to fight someone. We laughed at the idea of needing to fight, but in his mind if we were out to dinner and someone dangerous came along he wanted to be able to protect me and didn’t feel like he could fight properly without the right shoes on. Spiritually speaking, if we are in the wrong shoes, we will try to fight battles that we are not equipped for. We need the gospel as our foundation for every battle we face. Right now people are fighting internet battles with some very difficult topics. Christians who are trying to persuade other people without a proper foundation of reading the word regularly are going to stray off topic and/or misuse the opportunity.
- I visualized the shield of faith literally sizzling as it extinguished each fiery arrow aimed at it. I thought about how insignificant those arrows would seem as they literally lost their fire on contact. Faith sees the trouble coming but is unmoved by it.
- The helmet of salvation protects our head/mind from all logic that opposes the gospel message. We know the gospel and therefore we know who we are and where we belong.
- The last one was the most profound to me. We all know that the sword of the spirit is the word of God. I have always pictured a giant flashy sword when I read this. In my footnotes I read this morning that the sword in this time period for offensive armor was actually a very small sword used for close contact fighting. This really hit me first of all, because I saw that as intimate. Our time in the word of God is intimate and when I thought about this as a small sword I also thought about it’s accuracy. One who spends regular time reading the word has developed intimacy and accuracy in applying it. Another thing I thought of with the close contact was that you wouldn’t wave a small sword around at people from a distance. It is used for close contact situations. I visually saw the obnoxious image of a Christian who tries to use scripture to broadly wave at and threaten people at a distance. You can’t win people over by assaulting them with scripture. It takes intimate relationships to work this stuff out.