“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” -Ephesians 6:12
This verse, and the ones surrounding it are among the most quoted when it comes to spiritual warfare.
Whether you are a devoted religious person, or a “Christmas and Easter” church-goer, you’ve probably heard about the “armor of God.”
I’ve heard it many times, delivered in different churches in a variety of message formats. Everything from the Pastor literally wearing armor, to the quiet reflection.
But I’ve never been able to shake this feeling that this idea seems to be the antithesis of the goal of the Christian mission.
The Christian mission is debatable, and not the topic here. In-fact, I’m not able to speak to any such notion of the goal of Christianity.
But the idea of putting armor on is a defensive strategy. Historically, armor has protected the soldier, the warrior, even the tank. It has changed and adapted to be stronger and lighter, capable of stopping a bullet or blade. But the basic concept remains the same; protect what’s inside.
But who is the enemy? The verse before and after verse 12 in the book of Ephesians speaks of darkness and evil, the devil essentially. The Bible is also clear that the evil we see in the world is a direct result of the devil and his forces of darkness.
Jesus met him a few times, and the devil tried to make Jesus give into temptation. He tried to offer, power, riches, and the world…but Jesus had an answer for every temptation.
That’s essentially the idea behind this letter to the church; be ready to face temptation. Be ready to face the devil and evil ways of the world. Suit up, because it’s scary out there. Arm yourself, so that you’ll be ready to fight for good.
That seems odd.
With your defenses up, nobody can get in.
Not much room for anyone to see your faith…
There are literally hundreds of publications on faith sharing. Modern Christian conference environments are constantly driving home the idea of relevance and reaching a “lost” culture.
“To reach people nobody else is reaching, you have to do things nobody else is doing.” – Craig Groeshel
That’s the problem I see in the idea of putting spiritual armor on, your defenses are up so much that its all anyone sees. Christians aren’t at war with flesh and blood, but it’s hard to be exposed to a “lost” world, so it becomes very easy to put on the “Armor of God” to shield ourselves from the world we live in.
I’ve seen it happen in subtle ways, and it sneaks up on you.
I come from a church background, and when I was younger and naive, I looked at this verse as a way to separate my self from the “non-christians”
Stupid, I know. But it happens slowly, and in our self-centered culture, it’s so easy to let that idea lead us into a separatist mentality.
separatist |ˈsep(ə)rətist| noun; a person who supports the separation of a particular group of people from a larger body on the basis of ethnicity, religion, or gender :religious separatists.
In my humble opinion, its much more important that we lay our armor down.
I know the verse has wise advise, it is important to understand the teachings of Jesus so that we can spot lies or evil in our life. But I’m not sure Jesus was ever a fan of wearing armor.
If the church really wants to reach people, it’s time for the armor to be laid aside.
Don’t wait, Don’t wait
The lights will flash and fade away
The days will pass you by
To lay your armor down
– Dashboard Confessional