August 6, 2020
“Arming Ourselves in the Pandemic”
By Pastor Steve Hall
One of the best newspaper comics of all time is Calvin and Hobbes. I have a book containing a collection of the strips, which I love to revisit. In one particular strip, Calvin and Hobbes come marching into the living room where Calvin’s mother is seated in her favorite chair. She is sipping her morning coffee. She looks up at Calvin and is amazed and amused at how he is dressed. His head is encased in a space helmet. A cape is draped around his neck and shoulders and is dragging on the floor. One hand is holding a flashlight and the other, a baseball bat.
“What’s up today?” she asks him.
“Nothing, so far,” answers Calvin.
“”So far?”” she questions.
“Well, you never know. Something could happen today. And if anything does, by golly, I’m going to be ready for it!” Then he marches out.
Calvin’s mom drinks her coffee and thinks, “I need a suit like that!”
That’s the way many of us feel as we deal with the current crisis. Or even more “normal” crises. We watch the news and this world seems dangerous, with violent people at each other’s throats. A suit like Calvin’s would certainly help us to say with Calvin, “Whatever comes my way, I’m going to be ready for it! Bring it on!”
Now according to the Apostle Paul, we do have a special suit. In Ephesians 6:13-17, Paul writes “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.”
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”
“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish 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.”
A chief feature of the armor of God, according to Paul, is the “helmet of salvation.” You, like Calvin, know how important a helmet is. Helmets protect our most vital organ, the brain, when we’re biking or ski-ing. The helmet of salvation is our ultimate protection in all we do. When the devil wants to make us doubt God, Jesus, and our salvation, this helmet protects our mind from doubting God’s saving work. It is the sense of security we have that we are surrounded by God’s love.
The “sword of the Spirit” is the word of God. According to many scholars, when the “word of God” is used in the New Testament it does not refer merely to Scripture. After all, sacred writings were not gathered into the collection we know as the Bible until after New Testament times . The “word of God” refers to Christ and also to the “word God gives us to speak,” especially in the time of crises. Sometimes I think of the sword as a defensive weapon fighting off misinformation with the truth of God’s word.
If that’s our defense, what is our offensive weapon? Paul tells us that it is prayer. When we pray for and with other people, we create a community of faith. This is why Paul wanted people to pray for him while he was in prison. It was a comfort for him, and more. He knew that the community of faith stood behind him in his hardships as well as his victories. And he received strength. We can all receive strength from prayer.
With the armor of God, we can get through this crisis. Whatever life throws at us, “by golly, we’ll be ready for it.”
Put your trust in the one who can sustain us during this pandemic. Read your Bible and find God’s truth, and pray!
Email me to talk more about the armor of God and the challenges of our times.