March 30, 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:
In the call to “love one another” there is little room to practice hate, bitterness, angst, prejudice and murder. If there was room, it is only that which we ourselves attempt to create in order to give us some “wiggle room” to be human. Well, not human really at all but inhumane. When Jesus said, “I have come to minister to the sick as the well have no need for a doctor,” I cannot help but hear a modern verse which says “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” No one did that better than Jesus did. He did it throughout His ministry. His hope was that in “seeking and saving the lost” would transform many and bring the ultimate truth to light. We have to know that “nothing which is hidden will escape being brought to light.” That is why in Christ there is no east or west, north or south, Jew or Gentile, slave or free, black or white or any other color. Those designations are the “flesh and blood” descriptors of humanity to which we all could add a few other items on the list such as rich or poor, male or female (or otherwise), etc. But, in terms of the “spiritual” descriptors there is only light and dark, righteousness and evil, saved and condemned. On “that day” there will be no inbetweens. And what is “that day”? It is the fateful “Day of the Lord” when the Judge of all Life and Living executes His perfect justice speaking the truth in love. On that day, the whole world will see Jesus coming as the Christ and will kneel (in fealty or in falsity) to declare “Jesus is Lord.” But, only those who have clothed themselves with the full armor of God will be able to stand and withstand the onslaught of the truth of all things. I see “when the roll is called up yonder” that the called of earth gather and declare in one voice “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain and raised from the grave who was and is and is now come!” They will not be like the poor shepherds in the fields watching their flocks through the night who were unprepared for the angelic announcement of Jesus’ first coming. They fell to the ground in fear for their lives. They covered their faces so their eyes could not see the glory of the Lord which shone all around them and become paralyzed in blindness. No, those who truly believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and have accepted Him as Lord and Savior will be struck in awe and worship in spirit and in truth. They will be uplifted as they lift up their hands, eyes and voices to King of Heaven and earth.
I wonder why we are not drawing our enemies closer so that they might experience the love of the merciful and mighty God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and others the least of which is not, of course, Jesus of Nazareth. Look at who Jesus surrounded Himself with. There were in His inner circle of disciples: broken fishermen, failing businessmen, a tax collector, an ex-patriate, argumentative brothers, skeptics, doubters, fearful and isolationists. We could also add: the demon-possessed, a prostitute, an ambivalent Pharisee, a crooked businessman, a thief and a hitman. He hung out with lepers, the lame, the deaf, the poor, the dirty and unkempt as well as with Samaritans. But, let us not forget that he never turned down the invitation to talk with the Scribes, Pharisees, teachers of the Law, the rulers of the Temple and the representatives of the Roman Empire. Was He concerned that their “flesh and blood” would rub off on Him? Did He employ worldly prejudices to fend them off? Or did He call them all to Himself as He did the little children whom the disciples attempted to discourage from drawing near and clinging to Him? What if the definition of “enemy” was this: anyone who keeps me from achieving my goal of prominence in life by whatever definition I desire to use in describing prominence. Would that not also include ourselves? How often do “we” get in the our own way? So, then “love the neighbor as yourself” can just as easily be rendered in Jesus’ thinking as “love the enemy as yourself.” Now is there more sense to Paul’s teaching of “we do not fight against flesh and blood.” Instead, we are fighting against the spirit of divisiveness, exclusivity, prejudice, selfishness and covetousness which clouds our thinking until we are left standing in the dark wondering where the light switch is. And the solution?
Well, Paul declares the solution is “putting on the full armor of God.” Do not be mislead on this as Paul is not actually speaking of body armor to protect “flesh and blood.” He is speaking of the spiritual armor which guards “the heart, mind and soul” of a person. And, as I have been praying on this since it was revealed to me a couple of weeks back, we can see how it is also a description of our spiritual BODY armor. By that I mean, the body of Christ- the Church. Just as each member of the body has a specific function as to its work, ministry and worship, so there may well be the designation of a piece of the armor for each people. Not unlike the military designations which Paul himself would have been familiar with. They are companies of people trained for specific purposes which serve the whole. Just as he speaks of the “fruit of the Spirit” (singular) and then mentions nine different “fruits,” so it could be considered in the putting on of the “full armor” (singular) of God and then a variety of pieces each with a particular purpose and function. I will leave you with that idea today as food for thought as we visit the verses describing the full armor of God or, as I might now see it- the full armory of God. Until we share again, shalom.
A PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Father, thank You for equipping us with the truth of purpose and calling as we live in these days. May all we say and do bring glory and honor to Your name. May it also present the desire of Your hope for all people to be Your children in worship and in praise through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.