Sunday, November 30, 2014

Raise Your Shield

Ephesians 6:16 – “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”

Shield (noun) – 1. A broad piece of armor, varying widely in form and size, carried apart from the body, usually on the left arm, as a defense against swords, lances, arrows etc. 2. A person or thing that protects.
(verb) – To protect (someone or something) with or as if with a shield.

Turn on the news. See anything positive going on? Probably not. Or if there is, there is little. Not enough to break through the gargantuan issues and atrocities of war, racism, murder, genocide. I could go on and on.

Maybe don’t turn on the news then? Try the internet. There you see nothing but the biting, vicious attacks of peoples opinions toted around as fact. Seeking nothing but tear the opposing worldview down.

Basically, there’s a lot of badness out there right now. But lets face it, there always has been.

I’ve posted a great deal using war imagery. Fighting for the Kingdom. Fighting for our fellow Christians. I still believe we should! But I want to discuss a different concept I’ve been mulling over.

The shield.

The church/Christians in general quote Ephesians 6 a lot. The full armor of God. It’s a powerful part of scripture. Truly. But where I think we tend to get hung up is with the sword.

The sword is an offensive weapon. Made to cut down enemies. To strike down that which opposes you. I think for a time we needed to be the sword, and in ways we still do. I think there have been times where we’ve needed to bring down the evil of the world with the Sword of the Spirit. I can personally attest to it’s need and how I’ve used it.

Where I think we’ve gone a bit off is that we think that we need to attack any perceived threat with the sword. Whether God or the Spirit is in it or not.

We attack those who attack us. We lash out at those who are different. We decided that we have human enemies who need to be defeated. We decided that we are persecuted and need to fight back at all costs.

Through this, we may do some good for the Kingdom sure. But mostly it seems that we cut all those around us to ribbons. With hate and anger, not in the Spirit. We use the sword to cut down our fellow man rather than destroy the forces of the Enemy. We seek not to understand, but rather to assimilate with the aid of our sword.

I don’t think this is how the Sword of the Spirit was meant to be used.

So lets talk about the Shield of Faith.

A shield is made to defend. To keep yourself safe from all that comes at you. In the context of our own Christian walk, the Shield of Faith allows us to endure trials and tribulations of all types. We can lean into our faith in Christ and remain safe. Sometimes the trial will get to us, maybe circumvent our shields, but the shield will hold. Just as our faith will.

The shield can not only protect you, but “extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one.” You don’t even need to draw your sword! Just hold fast behind your shield and it will keep you safe from the things of this world.

But by no means are you to cower behind your shields. Shields are weapons in their own right. You can certainly beat something back with a shield. Try taking a good hard shove from one of those and see how you feel!

Shields also allow us to unify in our faith against a common evil. When we lock shields together we are stronger than we could ever be on our own. We can take the brunt of the Enemy’s attack and then repel it. We can surge forward together as a body of believers. As a church.

A shield is a powerful tool. One we need to utilize more.

Seeing an issue, a difference, something you don’t agree and hacking it to bits with your sword is not what we are called to do. Be stronger than that. Be more mature. If you feel adversity headed your way, simply hoist up your shield and endure it.

We were not called to destroy ourselves. Neither were we called to berate and attack those who disagree with us. There’s a difference between speaking the God-given truth in love and bringing others down with shame and hatred. If you take a good look at yourself I think you’ll know which one you tend to employ.

Stand resolute with your shields held high. Repel the attacks of the enemy. Endure adversity with love. Protect those that cannot protect themselves. Do not seek revenge. Don’t lash out. Put away your bloodstained swords. They’ve done enough for now.

The world is changing. Not always for the better. We do not need to be the ones to attack and slash our way through it. We need to march forward strongly, with our shields in hand. Marching toward those in need. Towards those whom are broken. We need to defend them, and show them the absolute and perfect love of Christ. And then we need to keep marching on.

Stand strong.


P.S. I paraphrased some from this lesson on the Shield of Faith. Take a read, it’s great stuff!

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