The Spirit’s sword isn’t for cutting people down; it’s for cutting them free.
The final piece of armour is the sword of the Spirit. It’s described as the word of God, so some of us have thought of it as the Bible. That’s not how the Ephesians would have understood it when they received this letter: they didn’t have Bibles.
The final section of the Ephesian letter explains how we’re to live as the kingdom of God in a world where not everyone recognizes Jesus’ kingship yet. Those who claim to have power don’t relinquish it easily, so it’s a volatile conflict. That’s why we need armour. Continue reading “Using God’s armour (Ephesians 6:13-17)”
How useful is this old armour? Depends who you’re fighting.
Defence is a big deal. Globally, we think it’s worth $1.8 trillion dollars each year.
When Christians talk about putting on a breastplate and helmet, taking up a sword and shield, it sounds pretty lame against piloted drones and guided missiles. Do you think technology is wiping out Christianity?
Truth is, the Christians’ armour would have sounded lame in the first century too. Rome was the superpower of their world, and the Romans soldiers were legendary at supporting Caesar’s reign. For any community to support another king was suicidal.
Yet, Christians were openly proclaiming that God had set someone else on the throne, “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked” including Caesar’s (Ephesians 1:21). The gospel — the good news that Jesus is Lord and reigns over all nations — placed Christians at loggerheads with the existing authorities. Caesar also described himself as good news for the world, its lord, and saviour of its people.
Why does the New Testament accept slavery, when treating another person as property is inhuman?
Ephesians 6 5Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. (NIV)
Why require slaves to live in a way that falls far short of the kingdom of God, a society where everyone treats each other the way God treats us in Christ? Ultimately, injustice must yield to Christ’s reign, so why doesn’t the New Testament call us to speak out against institutionalized systemic injustice?
In the big arc of the Bible’s narrative, slavery is wrong. The Bible begins with humans equal under God (Genesis 1:26-27), and the first time slavery appears it’s labelled as a curse (Genesis 9:25). The Bible concludes with the powers of evil falling, when avarice ceases and no longer are “human beings sold as slaves” (Revelation 18:13).
So why doesn’t the New Testament call God’s people to condemn slavery? The tough questions are our friends, friends that challenge and reshape our understanding.
Since we can’t have the marches and parades this year, let’s make Anzac Day a more contemplative experience. Whether you’re educating children at home or just wanting to make the day stand out from the humdrum of lockdown, let’s make it significant. Continue reading “A different Anzac Day”