The Reading: Ephesians 6:10-18
“Put on the whole armour of God” (v.14) RSV
As we grow up in the faith we realise that there is a battle going on between good and evil. This warfare becomes much more acute because we have sided with ’good’. As members of Jesus Christ we have in fact joined his army. In the 1662 Prayer Book of the Church of England we are described as “The church militant here on earth”.
In no way has this got anything to do with taking up bombs and bullets in order to exterminate or convert the opposition! As St Paul says in another of his letters, “we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power …” (2 Corinthians 10:3-4). Our weapons are the word of God, love, prayer and acts of kindness.
The Church’s warfare is to bring in the Kingdom of God, and this cannot be done except by living as members of that Kingdom. When Jesus sent out his disciples he sent them out as “lambs in the midst of wolves” (Luke 10:3).
We must not avoid our responsibility to be engaged in contending for the Faith. We must not shirk standing up for the oppressed. We must not keep quiet when we should speak up. Jesus said, “whoever is ashamed of me and my words, of him will the Son of man be ashamed …” (Luke 9:26). Let us be proud of our Lord and our faith.
Warfare is dangerous and will involve casualties. The contender for Christ can similarly expect to be misunderstood, criticised or even worse. But we fight on in the name of Christ. The Holy Spirit has been given to us to bring us out from behind locked doors where we might hide for fear, and has given us boldness to stand up for good against evil.
Father, forgive me when I want to remain a child, irresponsible and nurtured. Help me to take my place in the battle against evil, whatever the cost. Amen.
1 What helped Joshua in his battle against the Amalekites?
2 What made the fight worthwhile for Paul?
2 Timothy 4:6-8