Armour of God
The bible uses a lot of military imagery. Armies were pretty in your face in the ancient world, and in biblical times. We don’t tend to see them as much these days.
But it is not to be a scary thing, this military imagery. We are not to go around killing and destroying, that’s not the point.
In this list of the armour of God, most of the parts that are mentioned are armour, and that is a protective thing, but one of them is a weapon, only one compared to 5 pieces of armour, and that one is a sword.
We went through the items of the armour of God.
Belt of truth
Breastplate of righteousness
Shoes of peace
Shield of Faith
Helmet of salvation
Sword of the Spirit.
But I want to put to you that the way that wars were fought in ancient times, a sword was also a defensive weapon. And the reason, (and I believe that this is very important for us today) is that you never fought alone.
Whether it was in the Apostle Paul’s time (who wrote these verses about the armour of God in a Roman army-dominated time) or our time today, a soldier isolated and alone on a battlefield is in trouble. You never place anyone out there on their own, they will be overwhelmed.
You put them in a line in Paul’s day as part of an interlocking shield wall, or a well trained brigade, where each one protects the other, and each one gets their strength from the others. Back then they would stand with their shields together, and their swords out in the gaps between, not to swing, but just to form a big bristling “back off and leave us alone” kind of formation.
That is exactly the same with the church, and with the faith. We are not meant to go out there into the world alone. We quickly get overwhelmed. It doesn’t matter if we have the best armour or weapons, we have strength in numbers, and in looking after each other and our army is called the church, and our particular brigade, or battalion, or unit is called a congregation, or a particular church group in one place.
We are all part of the same army all over the world and not only now, but we are part of the same army with generations of our families who have fought what the bible calls the “Good fight” before us and are now in heaven cheering us on! We are part of something huge and amazing! Why would we want to leave that and risk going out there on our own, with no-one to watch our back!?
We help each other to do what Paul says the armour of God is there to help us do. We stand firm. We don’t go out and attack anyone or anything, but we don’t give up and we don’t back down either. Not because we are the strongest or the bravest, but because God gives us what we need. It is all a gift from him. Truth, righteousness, Faith, Peace, salvation, they all come from God. They are all gifts from him.
Oh, and one other thing about the armour of God. It is not the most important thing. God is.
It might sound funny to say that, but I think we get it a little wrong sometimes. Even in the church we can get our commanding officers orders wrong. If we are an army and we need orders from our commanding officer, where do we find them? The bible! That’s right.
Anyway, in the church we talk about somethings as being important. And they are. But sometimes we put too much importance on them.
If I was to ask someone what is the goal of being Christian, part of God’s army, they might say, to be righteous, that big word that means right with God. Or someone might say: “to get to heaven”. Or we might want the armour of God, that would be pretty cool.
But why do we want to go to heaven? Because God is there! Why do we want to be righteous? Because it means being right with God.
We don’t believe in God so we get anything else, like God is giving us a reward. We believe in God, we follow God, we are part of God’s army, because what we want is GOD!. If we have God in our lives, if we know our Lord Jesus, than all this other stuff happens as well. He gives us all the other good gifts, we don’t have to go looking for them.
We had a bit of a catchphrase this week, and Nathan and Jacinta loved getting the kids to yell it back at them. It went “Stand strong: Armour up”
But don’t do it alone.
Stand strong together, as soldiers of the King.
Thank God for all his gifts to us, and that he gives us what we need to stand strong for him