last night was the first attempt at multiplying our group. about 10 of us gathered downstairs and i led the time finishing up the book of ephesians, focusing on the armor of God passage.
i must admit that when i get to this part of ephesians my eyes glaze over. armor. sure, i need to be protected from the enemy. battle. okay, life is war i have been told, so bring it. spiritual warfare, not sure exactly how that looks in my life, but i’m guessing its there somewhere. so… know the armor i need, know that satan is lurking, and make sure everything stays on as it should and then… fight. but what battle is it, exactly? and what the heck is this sword for? forgive me, braveheart lovers.
moving on- when i attempted to studyi thought i’d see what “the google” had to offer and when i typed in “armor of God” the first thing that came up was armor of God pajamas. i am not kidding. this further proved to me the mere novelty this idea has become. maybe people are really not getting whats going on here. but hey, at least there is a cool costume involved.
as i studied various things related to the armor of God i realized something that i just can’t get over. seriously. i can’t get it out of my head, or even completely in my head, just yet.
while most of the armor is defensive- things we are to use to protect ourselves- the one offensive weapon (if you want to call it that) is the sword of the spirit, the word of God. usually i imagine people waving around a bible aggressively trying to get people to repent and be saved. but this is not what is going on here because when Paul is writing, the NT hasn’t even been completed, much less compiled. the word of God is referring simply to the message of Jesus, the cleansing word of Jesus already mentioned earlier in ephesians 5:26.
the message of transformation possible through Jesus is what we are to attack with. this is amazing to me. we move forward with this message towards the goal of complete restoration for all things. we offer not violence or force, but transformation. reconciliation. which is why paul is trying to tell the ephesians their enemy is not physical. this makes the idea of peace so beautiful because it is something that must be offered to all that evil has marred, which is what our enemies are at the core; people overcome, at least momentarily, by evil. we all experience the poison that this broken world has leaked into creation, institutions, individuals by death and disease in all its various forms. and God offers peace to all of this.
something insightful was pointed out to me in the book of isaiah. read it for yourself and see the themes found in chapters 52-56
Salvation (deliverance in the OT) is declared to be coming, peace is on its way.
Jesus becomes the agent of this peace.
Restoration is established.
God says come get it. come get the peace that has been made possible to you through Jesus.
And if you weren’t sure, this peace is for the foreigner. the outcast. all people. everything.
swords will be beat into plowshares (isaiah 2)
the lamb will lay down with the wolf (isaiah 11)
trees will replace thorns (isaiah 55)
tears will be wiped away (rev. 7)
barren women will have children (isaiah 54)
beauty will come from ashes (isaiah 61)
ruins will be raised (amos 2)
years will be restored (joel 2)
wounds will be healed (jeremiah 30)
this is how God began to deal with the evil present in the world. He has bared the responsibility of restoring all things unto Him and we who have believed Jesus to be Lord now bare this same message, its what we fight with. delivering it to others and living it out ourselves.
there is no armor for our backs, you notice. just as God has an ultimate reconciliation in mind, we ourselves are moving forward towards that moment every step of the journey. even the steps marred by pain and darkness are steps covered in peace and ultimate healing from Jesus.
i can’t even begin to express the joy i am feeling right now for being a part of this movement. for being given the chance to experience this in my own life. to know a God who is such perfect love.
Evil is still a four-letter word; so, thank God, is love. God grant us grace to be so filled with that love that we may work in our own day with mature, Christian, and sober intelligence to address the problem of evil, to implement the victory achieved once for all on the cross, and to be agents, heralds, and living embodiments of that new creation in which the earth shall be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.