Monday, February 18, 2013

Stand Firm

Lent Day 6

Eph 6:10-17  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armour 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.

This passage from the letter to the Ephesians probably has a military context. While I acknowledge the dispute about authorship of this letter, I like to think that it was written by Paul from Rome soon after his arrival in the year 62. This is four years after he had taken leave of the leadership of the Ephesian church in Miletus. Paul is under house arrest, guarded by a Roman centurion.  It is therefore perfectly logical for him to use the armour of his guard as an illustration for the Christian way of life.
The key word in this extended metaphor is “stand” (histēmi) – Ephesians 6:11. This is the term used to command a soldier to take up a position against the enemy. In other words – “do not turn your back / do not run away / do not retreat”. This metaphor asks the followers of Jesus to “take a stand” against that which is evil. It is not enough to refrain from doing evil. The expectation is that a Christian will actively oppose evil.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, stand in His strength alone;
The arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own.
Put on the Gospel armor, each piece put on with prayer;
Where duty calls or danger, be never wanting there.

George Duffield

The Seventh Sunday after Epiphany
Unchanging Truths
Scripture reading taken from A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants p.90


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