The armor of God has been on my mind lately as it pertains to my life, faith, and this world. If I’m being honest I think a lot of believers have become so discouraged and ineffective as they stand in frustration and/or in judgement rather than realizing the authority and power they possess to impact their immediate surroundings on a spiritual and practical level. It’s hard to have faith when everything around you is falling apart, and as things worsen, it is becoming harder to trust God and so much easier to question everything, including the very nature of God. In the last several years, I’ve found myself doing this a few times, more than I’d like to admit. Yet I’m learning and can firmly say I've come back to this reality...I believe God is real, but I also believe that I have to realize my part in this story and the part I get to play. I know God is not intimidated by my questions, however, I like to think He would prefer I continually allow Him into the spaces of my questioning.
I've always quoted and summarized James 2:14-26 in this way, "Faith without works is dead". However, it hasn't been until recently that I've actually understood what it meant on a deeper level. What I am realizing and God has been teaching me, is that faith is yes, an act abut it is also something I have to put on everyday just like I put on clothing and/or eat a balanced meal, it is a necessity to a thriving spiritual life. Simply stated, without faith and the total armor of God it’s difficult to win in battle, and it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Which to some might seem like a bold statement to make, and well, it is.
Here is what God showed me today.
When a legionary charged with a shield in battle, he would hold it with a straight arm and rest it on his left shoulder, then run towards the enemy with full force in an attempt to knock his foe over. He would then kneel behind the shield and fight from behind it. As I read this I was reminded of Psalm 23 where the psalmist writes these words:
4 Even though I walk
Even the psalmist recognized the importance of being equipped spiritually (your rod and your staff) and even the psalmist was somehow able to sit in the midst of the shadow of death at a table that God prepared for him in front of his enemies. Now as uncomfortable as that image is for me to imagine, I love how in verse six the psalmist writes with assurance, "SURELY, goodness and mercy will follow me", because it quickly reminded me of how often we charge after goodness over complication and quickly avoid or run away from being in uncomfortable territory. Perhaps, we need to take a note from the psalmist's diary and proceed in full battle gear even when we are being led to enemy territory, resting assured that what follows us from behind is goodness and mercy, and it will never leaves us.
When we take up the shield of faith and the armor of God we literally are able to enter battle and kneel comfortably in chaos in the midst of the enemy at war with us. That’s the power of faith, faith isn’t intimidated by circumstances or war. Taking up the shield of faith literally emboldens you to sit comfortably in tension, in resistance, in darkness, and in tribulations and somehow not be swayed. That isn't to say it won't be challenging, exhausting, or risky but that is why we have to consciously decide to put on our armor every single day.
What challenges are you facing today? Either personally or in a societal sense, and what has been your response as of late to them? How often do you find yourself in tension and your first inclination is to run away and pray that God would remove you from opposition as opposed to facing the issue head on, in the way God is directing you to do so, in the capacity or platform you've been given.
Now look at your city, look at your life, and ask yourself this, are you running away? Have you taken up the shield of faith or have you retreated in frustration or never even moved? Would you run shield first into opposition and take a knee right in the midst of danger if God asked you to do so? To be honest most days for me the answer is I wouldn't, but God has been challenging me to choose the latter. I feel strongly that we need more believers who are kneeling in boldness against principalities, powers of darkness, and the things that would try to thwart us away from having or continuing in a relationship with God, others, and our ability to stand in the gap for the marginalized. I believe that the battlefield is a place where we can reside comfortably so long as we pick up our shield, assume the position (posture of a warrior in battle) and actually begin to fight and not be afraid. I believe that when we do this, when we take up the shield of faith and the whole armor of God, we will then truly believe what we actually know to be true, we win.