August 20, 2009

The Armor of God

The difference (or lack thereof) between the God of the Hebrew Bible and the God of the New Testament got talked about in seminary a lot, but as is usually the case, the argument doesn't seem to matter at all in the real world. And yet, this morning, I can't help but read the lesson from Ephesians and think about all those who said they "didn't like all the violence" in the Old Testament.

The Armor of God, I think, gives us insight into the violence that is apparent throughout scripture. When it was justified, that is to say, when it was commanded by God, it was always, as Paul says, a struggle "against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."

The violence that makes us so uncomfortable was not superfluous. It wasn't drug violence. It wasn't sexual violence. It wasn't preemptive. It was part of that eternal battle between good and evil. These days, the battle has a different form, violence, for the most part, is no longer permitted by God, but the armor is still necessary.

"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."

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