April 11, 2023
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE READING:
“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)
“Stand firm then [strong in the Lord and in His mighty power- re. verse 10], with the belt of truth buckled around your waist and with the breastplate of righteousness in splendid array…” (Ephesians 6.14b italicized)
TODAY’S REFLECTION ON GOD’S WORD:
With Jesus the Christ as our Chief High Priest, we who are believers in Him and followers of the Way are called to be joined together as a priesthood of all believers. That means we go into the world to make disciples of all nations prepared for the battle of wills. It is not a matter of “will they or won’t they believe” or that we go only to those who will be prospective believers. No, it is a matter of “will we [I] or will we [I] not” go out and preach the good news by word and deed. Paul declared, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” He also proclaims “We are saved by faith, faith in Jesus as the Christ who was crucified and raised up from the grave so that we might live with Him forever.” So, in putting on the “whole armor of God,” we must embrace the identity of a royal priesthood of all believers. We must show our “true colors.” Those colors are represented in the breastplate of righteousness which the priest put on to protect “their heart, soul and mind” from the attack of the enemy. It was enlaid with twelve jewels representative of the 12 tribes of Israel and subsequently as declared in the New Covenant to be representative of the 12 disciples in apostolic ministry. We do not go out into the world looking like the world, acting like the world and challenging the gospel presentation with worldly representation. We are called with a higher calling.
You may ask, and rightly so, did Jesus wear a breastplate of righteousness? We can understand to be girded with a belt around His waist which helped to “keep His pants” up, so to speak. But, a breastplate? We do not see that anywhere in any description of Jesus. And you would be correct if it were intended to be a physical object as that which the priest wore in approaching the Holy of Holies or a solider approaching an unholy of unholies in battle. But, when Paul speaks of “putting on the whole armor of God,” he is not speaking literally. He is directing our attention to the attitude of righteousness which the believer should “put on” individually and corporately. It is a definition of our character presentation and ministry affiliation. So, when we put on the “belt of truth” it is not a belt with “TRUTH” engraved on it. It is about being fitted with the truth of God which we feel at the “gut level” of our whole being. From the belt would be fitted “the sword of the word” and a bag of resources from which we would supply ourselves and others for the work that is to be done. Likewise, the “breastplate of righteousness” speaks to a heart (mind and soul) that is colored by the fruit of the Spirit and the representations of a whole community of faith as the tribes of Israel were intended. Their richness was not of their own making but given by God for the purpose of being the people of God in a world that needed to know the presence, validity and power of God to redeem His people from the enemy of humanity. We do not go into the world alone and on our own. We go with the Holy Spirit of God and thus the very and inseperable presence of God in Jesus Christ as well as with the prayers and support of the entire community of faith in Christ as one body- the Church.
Mighty ones of God, we are not just people in the world who believe in God. We are now, in Christ, God’s people who believe in the Spirit of God to transform the people in the world into a community of “one faith, one birth, one baptism, one people, one nation, one Kingdom with one Lord and Savior of all.” We are a force to be reckoned with because we are a people bound to worship and serve “in spirit and in truth.” Let the truth be known and let our will for God be the evidence revealed from our heart, mind and soul.
A PRAYER FOR TODAY:
O God, You have clothed us and fitted us to be Your people in the world. From the provision of sheep skins in the Garden to cover our “shame” to the blessing of the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room to declare Your “claim,” we are ready to enter into the world and let Your Will not ours be known. May it be so today in Jesus’ name. AMEN.