Reading for Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost: Ephesians 6:10-20
Peace be with you!
Surviving in a world where there are cosmic powers of darkness can be difficult for us as Christians. We are daily surrounded by messages that try to persuade us to turn away from are Lord and into the darkness. There is no way to avoid these messages; people who choose to live in the darkness and who try to pull us in with them surround us. These individuals work as advertisers, journalists, news anchors, authors, movie directors, etc. They control what we see and do not see.
In the modern world, we have gadgets too help us to get the messages we want to see and to block or minimize the messages we do not want to see. We can follow certain news outlets and bloggers on Twitter and Facebook. We can surround ourselves with people who value the same things as we do. We choose which businesses, organizations, and movements to support and not to support. However, no matter how much we try to avoid the powers of darkness, they will always manage to infiltrate our reality. We cannot avoid the pain, injustice, and suffering in the world.
As Christians, what can we do to fight against the cosmic powers of darkness? What gadget can zap it out of the world once and for all? Where can we go to escape the darkness?
Unfortunately, there is no gadget to use against the powers of darkness or place we can go to hide from it. As long as God and the cosmic powers of darkness are at odds with each other, we as Christians will have to learn to protect ourselves and work toward bringing heaven to earth. How do we work toward such a lofty goal?
The author of Ephesians gives us survival strategy to follow when we are fighting against the cosmic powers of darkness. The author uses the metaphor of the armor worn by the Roman soldiers in battle. First, the “belt of truth” strengthens the individuals within the group to trust each other and to fight against others who are speaking against the Lord (Ephesians 6:14). Second, the “helmet of salvation” protects us from ourselves and gives us what we earn on our own merit (Ephesians 6:14, 17). God the Father gives us the gift of salvation through the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ—a debt we cannot repay. Third, the “shield of faith” gives us the willpower to stand against the powers of darkness and to spread the word of God (Ephesians 6:16). Because we have faith, we have the power to stand together and to rally against the injustice in the world. Finally, the “sword of the Spirit” allows the Holy Spirit to go out into the world and share the good news through us (Ephesians 6:17). With the Holy Spirit to guide us, we are able to read the scriptures and open our minds and hearts to the good news.[i]
Yet the Roman soldiers could not rely on their armor alone, because it only protected their front sides. Roman soldiers had to walk side by side into battle to protect each other’s backs. In the same way, we as Christians need to stand together against social injustice. We need to make our voices heard and work to get new policies and laws passed that protect the oppressed and minorities. We discussed how people with various disabilities protested Congress together and how that brought about the Americans with Disabilities Act. In recent times, we have seen how social injustice is fought through social media hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter and #DontShoot, which have sparked a nationwide discussion on the injustice shown toward the black community. After many years of Congressional testimonies, we have witnessed LGBT couples be granted the same rights as married heterosexual couples. During our lifetime, we have seen the power of groups coming together to make changes and end social injustice.
In the same matter, we, as Christians, come together in a united front against the cosmic power of darkness. We can open and read the scriptures together and share the good news with others. Together with the Holy Spirit we can bring about God’s will on earth as in heaven.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for giving us a survival strategy to fight against the cosmic powers of darkness. Help us to come together as a united front to share the good news with the world. Lead us with the Holy Spirit to do your work to protect the oppressed. Thank you for giving us a community to belong to. Amen.
[i] “Paul’s Product Proposal: The Bible Gives us Some Ideas for ‘Wearable Tech,’” Homiletics 27 (2015): 62-64.