My brother, who is a museum curator, likes to tell the story of a trip he made to an auction in Europe with the expressed intent of purchasing a medieval suit of armor for his museum. The story gets very interesting when he gets to the part when, after the successful purchase of the suit, he was faced with the issue of getting it back to the US. Suffice to say that he learned how heavy medieval armor can be, and how people look at you funny on an airplane when you have a suit of armor in the seat next to you!
The apostle Paul also knew something about suits of armor. In his letter to the Ephesians, most likely written while in was in prison, he tells them that they must put on “the full armor of God” in order to stand up to the forces that were aligned against them (he calls them the “devil’s schemes”). When he then goes on to specifically name different parts of what a typical Roman soldier would have worn for protection (helmet, sword, belt, shield, etc.), historians speculate that he was perhaps looking at a prison guard standing outside his cell when he wrote those words.
Toward the end of August, we will be looking at this famous passage in detail in our Wednesday and Sunday worship services by examining each piece of armor and the element of faith that Paul assigns to them. For his audience who faced the daily threat of persecution, these images would have been crucial to their survival. For us, even though we live in a time and place when any persecution we face for our faith is usually subtle, it is still hard to argue that we don’t need to put on the “full armor of God”. These days, the forces aligned against us are things like materialism , individualism, secularism, apathy, and other cultural influences that threaten both our faith as disciples and the existence of our church. Given the power of these forces, to put on the “belt of truth” and the “shoes of peace” and the rest of the armor is just as critical for us every day is it was for those first Christians.
So I hope that you will join us for what promises to be a very relevant look at Paul’s timeless image of the “full armor of God.” My guess is that if you do, you will never look at a suit of armor the same way again!