Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.
Did You Know? — Source, The Harper Collins Study Bible, New Revised Standard Version and Introducing the New Testament, Feasting on the Word.
• Believed to have been written during last third of the first century.
• Assumes reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles has been accomplished.
• Salvation is a present reality.
• The church is universal rather than one congregation.
• The church is built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets with Jesus as the cornerstone.
• Putting on the whole armor of God is linked to evangelism.
• Praying in the Spirit is vital for the people to stand against spiritual evil and for Paul to boldly speak the gospel.
Some Thoughts on Today’s Reading: Ephesians 6:10-20
This summer, Don and I have established a routine of choosing a new hiking opportunity each week. We try out a different trail on Saturday mornings getting up early and then finding a local place for breakfast. It’s a routine we are growing to love and look forward to. It is a practice that feeds our spirits as we disconnect from daily tasks and concerns and instead focus on God’s creation. Our spirits are lifted and there is a sense of freedom in a shared and life affirming focus. It is a peaceful time.
Ephesians calls us to a different way of looking at things, too. The Apostle Paul speaks to the Christian community’s need to claim a new way of being in the Holy Spirit through prayer and worship. These new habits include living into Christ’s teachings of commitment to love and thankfulness, forgiveness and peace. In living this way, we are employing counter-cultural weapons of the Spirit.
Paul describes this as putting on the armor of God to take on evil forces. The premise has been challenging for Christians to understand and live. The militaristic imagery of Ephesians has been used as a call to arms justifying persecution and oppression of people, physical warfare, taking of resources and launch of wars deemed as holy.
But Ephesians does not encourage us to do battle in conventional ways of the flesh. We are to wear a different kind of armor of prayer and worship seeking God’s will and mystery manifest in community. Paul, the ambassador in chains, seeks the power of community prayer to speak boldly of the gospel.
Perhaps it is human nature to be chained to worldly powers that are often destructive and far from peaceful. We can be the ones in chains or the ones who seek to chain up others. Either way, this is not God’s way for us. But these physical habits are hard to break. The violent history of the world is a testimony to this. Ephesians directs us to a spiritual path of freedom and peace that has real world impact if we pray in the Spirit to have the courage and commitment to change.
Grace and Peace,
Rev. Pam Brokaw pastors both the Rochester and Oakville United Methodist Churches.
She is a graduate of the Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry, where she earned her Masters in Divinity.