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The Armour of God

Last year I was getting ready for my second day of the Diocesan synod. I was sighing as I put on my jacket. My daughter asked me where I was going that day and what I would be doing. I told her that I was going to a church meeting, where I would be listening to presentations about church organisations and discussing motions on church structure, where people would passionately argue about what is the right way to organise the church. There would be arguments about theology and different groups would try to push their understanding of how to solve various problems.

“Is that what church is about?” I asked the rhetorical question. “No,” she said. “What is it about then?” I queried. “It is all about putting on the armour of God.” “Ah yes, you’re right—the armour of God.”

Going to a Christian school she had just learned about the armour of God. The “armour of God” consists of the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with the readiness of the gospel of peace; the shield of faith, with which we can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one; the helmet of salvation; and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. In addition, Paul urges the Christians to pray. You can read all about it in Ephesians 6:10–18.

The armour of God is another metaphor, encouraging Christians to be ready for the struggles of this world by focusing on God and relying on life principles, such as truth, trust in the Gospel, faith, the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures and prayer. I’m not a fan of military metaphors, but the one about the armour of God makes clear that the life of a Christian is also a struggle against the forces of this world, not least our human tendency to act in a way that causes least resistance and the fewest problems. We are not only fighting against external forces, but also our own weaknesses.

As I made my way to synod on the bus, I thought that my daughter probably was right: At church we are putting on the armour of God—we are being equipped for the challenges we will be facing in this world; we are encouraged to persevere even when life is tough and faith may despair. All these questions of church organisation are really peripheral. Church really needs to be about deepening our faith and drawing us closer to God.