Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:10-13 NIV)
If you’re a basketball fan, you know beginning this month the Cleveland Cavaliers will play the Golden State Warriors for the NBA championship. But it wasn’t without controversy – as Golden State should have lost the first game and some would predict the Western Conference series against the San Antonio Spurs – that is until the Spurs Superstar player Kwai Leonard was injured on what the Spurs Coach Greg Popovich and many others furiously complained and accused Warriors’ player Zaza Pachulia, of a dirty play, which forced the Spurs star player out of the game and for the remainder of the playoffs.
Outraged, Popovich compared Pachulia’s foul to Manslaughter – the crime in which someone kills another human being without premeditated intent. Now I love sports, and even respect Coach Popovich, but as I listened to the interview, I found myself thinking, “Manslaughter, are you kidding me?” You see I’ve met with the families of victims of manslaughter and tried to provide some sense of the anger, hurt and frustration that comes from someone dying at the hands of another, even when that death is not premeditated.
Another headline I read this week about two bitter basketball rivals – which I’m sure will be insensitively kicked around during this hard fought championship series stated, “It’s going to be a War!” Really, a war? – and again I would add, after you’ve looked into the hollow eyes of someone whose loved one has given his or her life for their country, you’ll think twice before using such hypersensitive hyperbole.
Perhaps my sensitivity is heightened as our country remembers its fallen servicemen and women, for hopefully more than just the one Monday many of us took off on Memorial Day. In addition these hyperbolic sports analogies strike me as almost insulting to the sanctity of life. As this war in the Middle East has become a different kind of ‘World War,’ expanding globally through demonic acts of cowardly terrorism (and believe me, I don’t throw around words like World War and demonic casually), including the most recent slaughter of children (Manchester England concert) and Coptic Christians (Egypt), I am reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Of all the wars that have ever devastated humanity, none have taken as many lives and lasted as long as the ‘War for Eternal Souls.’ Sadly, war can and will continue to take our soldiers. Terrorists can and will continue to take the lives of children and our brothers and sisters in Christ – and quite possibly our very lives, but nothing can take away our eternal presence in Heaven if we put on what Paul calls ‘The Full Armor of God.’ Paul admonishes followers of Christ to wear truth as though it were a belt and to don our ‘Christian Kevlar®’ (actually breastplate) to protect our hearts by living right before God. We are to march forward, sharing the Gospel of Peace, and to defend our faith as though it were a shield deflecting direct attacks from Satan and his demons. Paul then stresses that our salvation is akin to a helmet protecting our head from a mortal wound, for our salvation is the only thing that can protect the one thing that extends beyond our mortality - our eternal life. And finally Paul notes that we are to have in our possession, the Word of God, which he describes as the ‘Sword of the Spirit.’
By fitting ourselves with the Full Armor of God, we will be prepared to follow the marching orders of our Lord and King Jesus Christ. Undoubtedly we will lose a few battles along life’s journey, but ultimately, we will win the war and help save eternal lives along the way. God bless. Pastor Win