Tim Ross of North Branch, MI, USA
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. -Ephesians 6:10-12
This well-known and oft-repeated passage serves as Paul’s conclusion to his letter to the Ephesians. The Apostle has written of the greatness of God’s purposes through Jesus Christ and the life that should follow in response to Jesus’ life. He has set the standard high, but reminds his hearers that “such a life cannot be lived without a spiritual battle [and that disciples] must be strong, or, more literally, ‘be strengthened’…in the Lord” (Francis Foulkes, Ephesians, 1st Edition, Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008, 175).
In this passage, we are reminded that the Christian journey will not be an easy one, that it will be a war waged against the powers of the present age, and that, as disciples, we need to be prepared for the battle to come.
As a veteran, I am familiar with preparations for battle. During war time it is most important to know the enemy-his movements, his motivations, his defenses, and his strategies. Without this knowledge, it is very difficult to defeat the enemy.
This passage calls the disciple to the same challenge. If we are to be victorious over the forces of this age, we need to know how the enemy will meet us in battle. We need to be prepared to fight and to win.
This is difficult language for a church whose mission statement says that we promote communities of peace. However, being prepared to meet the enemy in battle and pursuing peace can co-exist. This passage even reminds us that we are to “proclaim the gospel of peace” during the conflict.
The closing words reveal the secret to our peaceful victory: “Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18).
Might we all find ourselves prayerfully engaged in the struggle!
“Attention is the beginning of devotion” (Mary Oliver).
Spend a few moments paying attention, wherever you are. Notice your surroundings. What draws your focus? Look more closely at detail and color. Notice what pulls or prods within you. How is the God-in-all-things speaking to you through what you see and feel right here, right now?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.