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Sunday Message for 26 August 2018: “Unseen Warriors”

Paul employs a military metaphor that helps illustrate today’s message from Ephesians 6:10-20, a lesson about spiritual preparedness against evil. Paul compares readiness to a soldier’s equipment, complete with armor from head to toe and even a weapon. Paul begins by asserting how we should be strong, with our strength coming from God.

Paul encourages his readers to wear spiritual armor for protection against all sorts of threats. Paul describes parts of the physical armor worn by the quintessential Roman soldier of his day. Paul mentions defensive armor (e.g., helmet, shield) and the sword used for offense. Paul observed how soldiers could function magnificently when they were outfitted with the proper equipment. Using mental images of soldiers may be a bit odd but we get the point (pun intended).

Paul reminds readers that Christians’ most persistent enemy is not limited to visible humans. Paul suggests that “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 . . . (Ephesians 6:12). Just when you thought that struggles were merely physical, Paul reveals the potential perils of a dark world filled with spiritual evil. Modern science has revealed that the invisible world, such of germs and viruses, poses dire threats to human existence.

How are you outfitted? Do you have what you need to take a stand against all sorts of evil? Do you put on the whole armor of God each day? Are you willing to learn how to wield the sword of the Spirit? And just when you think you’ve identified the enemy, such as some individual or a system of prejudice and injustice, the real culprit could be within you; not all enemies are seen or external.

Human life is defined by struggles. Bodies are buffeted by the forces of nature. Gravity drags down everything material. Disease and decay spread like a runaway plague. Wars and deprivation kill vitality as profoundly as conflicts produce ravaged bodies. And internally, bad attitudes and negativity eat people from within. Underlying all this death and destruction is the realm of spiritual warfare, invisible yet as dangerous as an enraged, charging soldier.

One way to resist and better manage threats is through better mind management. Mental vitality (e.g., mindfulness) is a way to consciously embrace God’s spiritual essence. You can remain faithful by keeping alert, a type of vigilance Jesus advocated. Being mindful and awake can help guard against soul blight, something more dangerous than any spear-wielding warrior. Proper thinking and awareness are great defensive weapons against soul blight. We can thank God for helping us become mentally fit, as to withstand a constantly biting universe of both seen and unseen threats. Strengthen your mind!

Life is an inherent conflict, a constant flow of attacks inside and out. Sometimes the warfare is literal while at other times the struggle is abstract and internally devastating. Either way, yearn for God’s protection and persist on the path of righteousness. We mustn’t underestimate the Enemy, whatever form it may take. The positive lesion is just as important, and that is to not underestimate God’s presence. However you describe it, God’s empowerment conquers all opposition.

Come, brothers and sisters in faith, let us celebrate God’s blessings. We are victors, not victims. We are ready for whatever life throws at us and no enemy shall defeat us. Stand up, take your place, and be ready to fulfill your God-blessed destiny.

–Reverend Hoxey