The reading from Ephesians 6:10-18 is the one about the Armour of God. We have spoken on this reading before, but this time we were particularly inspired by a picture from Desert Island Church. Do check out their website – I particularly like some of the cartoons, but that may be my English sense of humour!
Anyway, with that bit of inspiration, some borrowed builders clothing, and some small helpers, we came up with our own version of “The Road Cones of Faith”
(We started with the reading from Ephesians)
Well, I don’t know about you, but after listening to that reading I have a feeling that we are all dressed incorrectly. I mean, shouldn’t we all be looking a bit like this!
But is this really about what we should wear? Well, of course not. It is about equipping ourselves for battle – not a battle with each other or other nations or countries, but a battle of the Spirit; the battle between good and evil, right and wrong – the battle between God and Satan that has been happening right from the beginning of time.
We are in a battle for our souls. Jesus came so that we have life through him. Satan lost big time when Jesus died on the cross for us, but Satan keeps on fighting and is still causing problems for God’s people. Satan is sneaky. He wants nothing more than to take us away from God, and he will use every trick that he can to do so. Like a great warrior we need to put on our armour, and because our enemy is a spirit, God has given us spiritual armour.
Now, the writer of the letter to the Ephesians, this morning’s reading, was Paul, and he was likening the equipment needed for this Spiritual battle to things that would have been familiar to the people he was writing to – that is, the armour worn by the Roman soldiers of the time.
Well I personally haven’t seen any Roman soldiers around here lately, so how about we illustrate this reading with some things that are probably a lot more familiar to we Cantabrians nowadays? That’s right Builder’s safety gear. And to make it a bit more interesting, I need a volunteer to model how it is used.
So let’s put on the builder’s Personal Protective Equipment of God!
The tool belt of truth (v14)
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist”
The tool belt is used to keep everything together that is needed on the job. When confronted with something that needs fixing our builder doesn’t have to go off to find the equipment he needs, it is right there at hand. When we keep God’s truth with us – in our hearts and minds, and living it in our daily lives – we won’t get confused about what is real and what are lies from the enemy. And the way that we know what the truth is, is by listening to, and reading and learning, God’s word.
The reflective jacket of righteousness (v14)
“with the breastplate of righteousness in place”
Righteousness means being right with God.
The reflective jacket is used so that our builder can easily be seen. If he wanted to hide he would need to take it off – I don’t know, maybe he didn’t really want to climb that scaffolding, so he was hoping his foreman wouldn’t see him.
We know that God sees us always. This is a reminder to us to guard our hearts and attitudes so that we are always right with God and not ashamed to be seen by Him.
Gospel steel toe-capped boots (v15)
“with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace”
It’s much easier to walk with a good pair of shoes or boots on. Be ready to go wherever, and to whoever, God sends you, to tell the good news of God’s amazing love for us.
The road cones of faith (v16)
“take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one”
Well, road cones might not be much good against flaming arrows, but there aren’t that many of those around Christchurch either. There are a lot of cars though, and the road cones will ward them off from around the areas our builder is working so he’s not going to get knocked over. Road cones don’t have a lot of material compared to cars, but the builder trusts that they will do their job and keep him safe. In the same way, faith in God is trusting in Him even when you do not understand why some bad things happen. Faith means believing in God and His plan for us, even when we cannot see where the road we are on is taking us. Satan will try to plant seeds of doubt and fear in our hearts and minds, but those seeds of doubt can never take root if we have faith in Jesus. When we choose to believe God, and not Satan’s lies, the road cones of faith block the doubts that Satan drives at us.
The hard hat of salvation (v17)
“Take the helmet of salvation”
The purpose of the hard hat is, of course to protect the head from injury. Satan tries to injure our minds, discouraging us by pointing to our failures, our sins, our unresolved problems – whatever seems negative in our lives – in order to make us lose confidence in the love and care of God.
But we have the knowledge that, by God’s Grace and the sacrifice of Jesus, we are saved. We are God’s children. Satan has already lost, and nothing can ever take you away from God. And that knowledge protects us from the blows that Satan directs against our security and assurance in Christ.
The saw of the Spirit(v17)
“and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
A sword can attack or defend. A saw can be used to cut things down, but also to ready material for building. God’s Holy Word is a powerful tool against Satan. It can cut Satan’s lies to pieces. And God’s Word builds us up, and readies us for building His kingdom in this world.
The words of the Bible are our saws.
Let me finish with the last few verses of the reading, taken this time from The Message translation:
“Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.”