The whole armour of God
One of the readings used at Morning Prayer last week came from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, one written when he was a prisoner in chains. Significantly he uses the image of a Roman soldier to describe how the members of that young church should live.
However, what comes to my mind when I read this passage is the memory of a long past Christmas when our son, as a small boy asked for a suit of armour as his Christmas present. Initially nonplussed, we realised that he meant a toy set, so on Christmas morning he unwrapped the desired gift. The metallic-painted plastic looked quite realistic; helmet, breastplate, sword and shield were quite convincing from a distance, and they delighted our son, giving him a great deal of pleasure, until he eventually tired of them and they were consigned to the toy box.
They were just plastic imitation, not the real thing. However, the Roman soldier guarding Paul was all too real, and seeing the heavy armour which was worn gave Paul an idea to motivate that church in Ephesus.
Therefore take up the whole armour of God, he wrote, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
The soldier’s belt becomes the belt of truth, his breastplate the breastplate of righteousness. P..aul urges them to put on whatever shoes will make them ready to proclaim the Gospel, together with the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. So equipped, they will be ready to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
This armour will not be consigned to the toy box, nor will it rust and be discarded as that worn by the Roman soldier will eventually. Moreover, the same armour is as valid today as it has always been, particularly in the strange situation in which we find ourselves. So let me echo Paul’s words:
Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armour of God….and having done everything, stand firm.