January 28, 2020 • Life for Leaders
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.
When we read about the armor of God in Ephesians 6, we naturally think about our own personal relationship to this armor. Am I buckling the belt of truth around my waist? Am I putting on the breastplate of righteousness? And so forth. This individual application of Ephesians 6:14-17 is certainly commendable.
But there is another way to think about wearing God’s armor—one that may not be as intuitive for people like me, a product of Western culture and its pervasive individualism. This passage also speaks to the actions of a church, a community of believers in Jesus. As we consider the implications of Ephesians 6:14-17, we ought also to ask: Is my church putting on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and the shows of the gospel of peace? Are we together taking up the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit?
When you remember that, in Ephesians, the church is the body of Christ, then this particular way of reading Ephesians 6:14-17 makes sense. Moreover, Ephesians consistently emphasizes the importance of corporate presence and experience of believers. Thus, one might even argue that the armor of God in Ephesians is primarily something to be worn by a Christian community, with the individual application plainly secondary. I believe that both the individual and the communal implications of Ephesians 6:14-17 are important and worthy of our attention.
So you might want to use the “searching and fearless spiritual inventory” from yesterday’s devotion to think about your own church or Christian fellowship group. In what ways are you putting on God’s armor faithfully and consistently? What pieces of armor are you neglecting? How might you put these one more regularly?
The point of this exercise is not to stir up criticism of your particular church. But, by paying close attention to armor you might be overlooking, you can identify ways in which your church is spiritually vulnerable. This exercise could help you identify areas in which your church needs to grow if it is to be strong in the Lord, especially in a time of ample spiritual opposition.
Something to Think About:
How is your church doing in putting on the armor of God together?
You may find it helpful to use the specific questions from yesterday’s devotion.
Something to Do:
With your small group or a Christian friend, talk about how your church is doing. If you’re a church staff member or a congregational leader, you may want to use this exercise with one of your leadership teams.
Gracious God, thank you for making your armor available to us, not only as individual Christians, but also as the body of Christ together. Please help my church to be intentional and faithful in putting on your armor together. Teach us how to do this in a way that enables us to fight well the battle in which we find ourselves. To you be the glory! Amen.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.