Racial strife. Social chaos. Economic disorder. Political rancor. Persistent pandemic. Debilitating lock-down.
What should the Church do? What should YOUR church do? What should YOU as church do?
It is time for the Church to (still) be the Church. What do we do? The Apostle Paul gives some suggestions in Ephesians 6:10–18.
THE BELT OF TRUTH
We Christians seek and then act on the truth: biblical truth, historical truth, scientific truth. All truth is God’s truth.
From ancient times we know that the first casualty in war is truth.
As Christians, we must seek the truth. What is the truth of the virus? What is the truth about racial division? What is the truth of violence by one group against another? What is the truth about the impact of the dissolution of marriage? What are true causes and solutions for poverty?
What is the true hope for people?
We Christians do not simply swallow pronouncements of politicians and the pontifications of media outlets. We do not blindly accept “what everyone is saying.”
Comb the statistics for yourself. Investigate primary sources. Consult opinions divergent from your own.
We seek truth and strap it on.
THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
Having been declared righteous through the blood of Jesus, we Christians and our churches seek to set things right.
Where someone is hurting, we help. When someone is lonely, we visit. When someone is hungry or thirsty, we supply what they need. When someone is being treated unfairly or wrongly, we speak up and step in.
We seek to set things right: marriages, families, neighborhoods, relationships.
(Check out N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope.)
THE HELMET OF SALVATION
If truth is the first casualty of war, fear is the first strike against its soldiers. And it is hard for soldiers to make good decisions when they are afraid.
As Christians, we are clear-minded. We keep the conviction of our safety firmly fixed our heads. As a friend says, “We fight from victory not for victory.” Or as the Apostle Paul, who lived in the pagan brutal world of the Roman Empire, wrote: “We are MORE THAN conquerors through him who loved us.”
We do not give into fear. Politicians want you to be afraid of the other side. Marketers want you to be afraid that you are missing out on something they have to sell. The news media seemingly wants you to be afraid of everything (a virus, singing in church, people of a different skin tone, the weather, pharmaceuticals, other nations, our nation) except them. That little voice inside you wants you to be afraid of what goes bump in the night.
Like a fireman who straps on his helmet and fearlessly rushes into danger, the Church serves fearlessly. We go into ravaged cities and clean up. We gather with and pray for enemies (more on that in a bit). As heirs to eternal life, we carry out our assorted vocations as policeman, school teacher, scientist, doctor, nurse, student, neighbor or friend, boldly blessing and helping where God has placed us without a thought of our own safety.
THE SANDALS OF THE GOSPEL
People need good news. Desperately.
Guilty people need to hear about forgiveness. People on the outside looking in need to hear about welcome. Discouraged people need to hear about strength for the day.
The Church and its people are an invading force of good news. The solution is not a new drug. The solution in not a new social policy. The solution is not a change in authority. The solution is not a new car or a better degree or a week’s vacation.
The solution is a new heart, a new mind. The Bible labels that repentance. More than a turning away from evil, repentance is the gift of a new way of thinking. We Christians take that good solution with us wherever we go as we announce the invitation of Jesus and His Kingdom.
The Church goes into the world with proclamation of life, forgiveness, reconciliation.
THE SHIELD OF FAITH
Satan is wicked. He is a liar. He is a murderer. He is the enemy.
He wants us frightened, angry, embittered. He wants us discouraged, distracted, disinterested. He wants us caught up in the things and the stuff of the world. He wants us not to realize what great peace and power come from the cross of Jesus.
We lift up the shield of faith to quench every last one of the flaming arrows of temptation he shoots our way. Like our Jesus, who resisted the temptations of the Evil One, we continue to trust in the truth of the Word of God and march forward in the Kingdom’s advance.
The shield of faith protects us against the real enemy. Our enemy is not flesh and blood—people of a different skin tone, people of a different political party, people with a different point of view. Our enemy is Satan and his powers and principalities who are exerting their last gasps of eternal battle against the Prince of Peace.
Our protection is the shield of faith: confidence in a crucified, risen, ruling, and returning Savior.
THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT
The Word of God: powerful, effective, productive, life-changing, saving, encouraging.
There is no more helpful thing that the Church, its congregations, and its people can do than to let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly. We read, mark, learn and inwardly digest the Word of God. It changes us from the inside out. And it sends us out to proclaim it to others.
It is our one offensive weapon. A peculiar weapon, to be sure. Unlike the weapons of the world, God’s double-edged sword means life and flourishing.
We do not rely on the power of the government. We do not rely on the power of force. We do not rely on the power of either the majority or the minority.
We go forth with the power of God’s good Word to make an eternal difference in a dying world.
Read Ephesians 6:10–18. It says what I have just said… more concisely.
It concludes with a call to prayer.
What does the Church, its churches and its people do?
We pray. Fervently. Exhaustively. Extensively. Persistently. Confidently. Joyfully.
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