March 24, 2023
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE READING:
“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)
“Therefore, put on the full armor of God. In so doing you will be able to stand your ground when the day of evil comes. After you have done everything you are able to in that day, you will be able to stand [before the throne of God with humble confidence.]” (Ephesians 6.13)
TODAY’S REFLECTION ON GOD’S WORD:
“Everyone must submit themselves to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, the one who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong.” (Romans 13.1-3a) Let’s be clear on the dichotomy presented in Paul’s admonition to the Ephesians and that which is spoken to the “Christ community within the Roman Empire as a whole.” If we were to battle against “flesh and blood” only (as many are in the world today within our homes, communities, nation and world), then it would be with our own agenda and understanding of what is “good for us” that we do so. The cries for justice accompanied by violence, malevolence and intimidation are not seeking justice but retribution and vengeance. Yes, we should all be concerned for fairness within the law and before the law. There should be that sense of equity regardless of race, gender, creed or ethnicity. We, as mighty ones of God, know full well the scripture “In Christ, there is neither slave or free, Jew or Gentile, male or female.” However, the world is far from being “in Christ” and such cries for a blended diversity merely demonstrates the competing caste system which worldliness revels in. And that is the distinction we must make when considering Paul’s urging of “respect your authorities/rulers” on the one hand and “fight against the rulers of this dark world.” Without the full armor of God we are likely to make an error in judgment as to which ruler should be honored and obeyed and which ones not. We should not base it on “our opinion” but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God. The rulers Paul speaks of in the letter to the Ephesians would fall into the category of “wolves in sheep clothing.” Those rulers which he mentions in the letter to “The Romans,” would be those who honor God and rule with the spiritual essence of equity and fairness, goodness and mercy, as well as with faith,hope and love- moreover love.
What danger there is in treating everyone the same! We dare not fall into the trap which is laid out today by those who call “good evil and evil good.” They have surrendered the truth for a lie and bully-tactic (even if it sounds like sweet talking) the lie so it is accepted as the truth. We have been going through a season such as that with the Covid Pandemic. But, the trap was laid long before the bait was introduced. The debate over “whom do we trust” when it comes to government rulers of any sort is bound into the circle of “one’s individual opinion and rights being protected.” The placing of one person, one group, one community, one ideology or one government over another is a danger we dare not afford ourselves. Yet, I know and realize that as Christ followers and mighty ones of God, we are asking for people to do just that. We are not surrendering our individuality and uniqueness as a person when we confess Jesus as Lord. We are actually highlighting it and allowing it to become a part of the whole. We are not automatons or clones. We are the children of God created in wonderful diversity for the sake of uniformity of body, mind and spirit. I hope you have seen and are affirmed in what you thought previously about what it means to be a member of the body of Christ. Paul defined it for the Corinthians in speaking in anatomical terms. He defines it for the Ephesians in military adornment terms. We are called to be one people of one mind with one heart by one spirit for one God. But, when we have authorities and rulers who desire to foster a culture and climate where our individual identity is a blended diversity we must beware. The best illustration of that I have at this time is a simple one. We all have taken a box of crayons and began to use all the colors to make one muddled mess. That is blended diversity. It is a mess. It resembles the chaos. For those who think that black is a color, I would offer that the truth is black is the absorption of all colors. They have lost their uniqueness and individuality and become one with each other to the point of no delineation. Of course, white isn’t a color either but actually the reflection of all colors. You can see why the “glory” of God is so powerful because it is the reflection of all life. It is not a black hole but more like a quasar in astronomical terms.
So, in our “battle against not flesh and blood but against the rulers of this DARK world” we must be discerning and determined. We are compelled by the gospel of Christ to love our enemy but with the purpose of introducing the enemy to the glory of God. Our desire is for them to be transformed by the light into the light of life, the light of all people which the darkness cannot comprehend, overcome or defeat. Be on guard as to who is that ruler in and over your life. Commit them and yourself to prayer asking God for the wisdom to see, speak and give glory that the evil which exists becomes clear and the good which exists becomes even more clear.
A PRAYER FOR TODAY:
We put on the armor of God today. We may not be fully dressed and thus vulnerable because some of the armor is too great for us to bear and understand. May Your Holy Spirit lead, guide and direct us in the way to accept what is given for our good and Your glory. May Your will be done on earth in and through us as it is in Heaven now and forevermore. AMEN.