Life is a Battle
Ephesians 6:11-13 Put on the whole armor of God . . . that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
When I was a sophomore, playing high school football, I desperately wanted into every varsity game. Each Friday, I thought, Surely, this will be my day. The more lopsided the score, the better my chances, so, when a particularly poor team was coming up, my hopes were high. On the bus to one such game, I realized, much to my dismay, that I had neglected to bring my helmet. Unprepared, I had to spend the game collecting stats with an injured player. Coach was not going to allow me anywhere near the field without my helmet.
Paul insisted, in today’s passage, that like football, I must come prepared to the battle of life. Just as I would not play football without protection, I must not approach the struggles of this life naked. I must choose to dress myself with God as my armor.
This is not something that happens automatically or by speaking some magical words. As Paul commanded, so I must choose to do it. I cannot live a lie and then whisper an enchanted phrase, claiming to wear the belt of truth (v. 14). I cannot live a life focused on me and then pretend that I carry the shield of faith (v. 16). I am not automatically armed with the sword of the spirit (v. 17). I carry it only when I grow the word of God in me. I do not gain magical armor with a secret phrase or thought. I put it on by doing it.
In my self-addiction, I refuse to clothe myself with God. In my self-focus, I point my life at me. Then, I wonder why I feel naked in the battle of life. God, why did you allow me to end up in treatment, jobless, losing my family? The truth is, I chose to face the struggles of life naked.
This is apparently our choice, even as a Christians. Paul said that even though we know God, we must choose to clothe ourselves with him continually. As long as we are in this flesh, we will be tempted to trust in self to satisfy our desires.
This is futility. Though I may have been able to stand on the sidelines without my helmet, I would have been a fool to enter that game unprotected. Likewise, I may navigate some of life without God, but if all I have to protect me is my own skin, I am headed for disaster. I have proven this. Without God, I go naked into life, pursuing destruction.