The Armor of God
A couple of weeks ago, I went to do something that I've wanted to do for decades. If you've talked with me much since then, you'll likely know that Isaac & I went to a black powder shoot at targets using "hardware" from the War Between the States (a.k.a. Civil War, 1861-1865). It was a grand time! Most of you have likely never experienced the joys of such a thing and I'll spare you many details, but let me assure you that they don't kick much. Really. Isaac & I think the smoke smells sort of like grilled chicken. Yes, it does. And No, I don't burn my chicken on the grill! We'd be happy to point you in the right direction to have the experience and decide for yourself just what it smells like.
And that's one of the things that stood out to me about the event--many of these people were very good at telling others about the fruit of their experience. Some of them had been at the sport for 40 years, so the experience was considerable. They'd tried many & various combinations so they'd be as accurate as they could with what they had. They knew details about history and about successful methods for accuracy. To be the best they can be. Some more than others, naturally, but all knew enough to tell me something interesting. Many seemed to be hoping for an opportunity to talk about the sport they love. They wanted to make sure that I wouldn't make the same mistakes they had and telling me how to fix any mistakes if it was too late.
Another thing that stands out in my memory was that they were very encouraging. They made the sport look fun and possible. One man lent me some ammunition when I thought I may run out before an event ended. Another offered me the use of his original 1863 carbine to shoot! All because I mentioned to one guy that I was concerned.
Many times I've wondered what these qualities would look like in a Christian. They were dealing with a hobby. We deal with Eternal Life & Eternal Truth. With sin and forgiveness. With the purposes of life. At the end of a shooting event, they wanted me to hear "Nice shooting!" The Christian wants to hear "Well done, good and faithful servant." Matt 25: 23 And Christians want others to hear those words as well.
Christians are compassionate toward others in difficult times We are to want to tell people about what we love--God. We want to help people who've gone down wrong paths, though we can't "fix it' for them--just like those at the shoot couldn't "make" me accurate. We can tell people about sin and Jesus and right directions (and we are supposed to!), but we can't, and shouldn't, make them go the right way. We certainly are to tell people about how we corrected our selfish misadventures by a relationship with Christ .
Of course, this means that Christians do their homework, just as the helpful guys at the shoot did their homework for years. And practice, practice! To be accurate, there's no substitute for time at the range and familiarity with your rifle. And to be accurate as a Christian, there's no substitute for time with God and familiarity with the Sword of the Spirit-- your Bible! (Ephesians 6)
Clearly, there are significant differences between my new friends at the range and Christians. Christians have even more challenging targets than the tiny things I saw at 50 or 100 yards. We get to see sin & real evil, up close and personal. We get to see sin conquered by God through Jesus. And Christians are to have the Holy Spirit to direct our shots against the devil. That's even better than hitting a 4" target at 50 yards, though the Spirit must have helped me do that, too! Pastor Geoff
The Armor of God
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. Ephesians 6: 10-20