Monday, December 15, 2008
Daily Bible Reading:Ephesians 6:10-17
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Comments. I am not of the mind that Paul wrote Ephesians—or at least that was what was being taught when I was studying Paul. For the early Christians who were persecuted and being used for sport in the various blood sports, putting on armor, having a breastplate and shield probably were important analogies. Today, however, when most of the death-dealing blows to faith come not from outside, but from inside the Church, this Stand Firm message is a liability. If anything, today, faith needs to be more compromising than the kind of literalism that abounds in American Protestantism. Mainstream Protestantism is undergoing great change at present. It is what is going to allow Christianity to survive.
Luther’s changes—while more revisions than changes, allowed Christianity to survive in the west 500 years ago. The changes that are going on today—the collectivization of denominationalism and the globalization of ethics, the use of scientific and literary study applied to scripture and moral standards, and the availability of the internet to proclaim the Christian message are all changes that remind us that faith is far more fluid and embracing than it has been in other ages. Today, I do not need a Spiritual sword, I need the ability to listen and share in the name of Christ.