The news cycle is always busy, but even if you’re not the type who gets regular updates on your phone, it’s hard to not be aware of the natural disaster currently unfolding in painful slow-motion on the island of Hawaii. On May 3rd, fissures started opening in the ground of the “Big Island” as the Kilauea Volcano began spewing lava. Now, volcanic eruptions are nothing new in the 50th state of the Union, but to me they are starkly different from most other types of natural disasters (storms, floods, tornadoes) that often strike suddenly, and quickly depart leaving a trail of debris in their wake. In contrast, the flows of molten rock and slag that started weeks ago continue to move at a slow but steady pace, consuming and destroying everything in their path. And when they finally cool, nothing will be left unaltered. Old landmarks and references will have been obliterated, leaving the landscape forever changed.
As I think about other reports of “seismic” changes happening in our culture, I couldn’t help but compare them to the relentlessly slow moving destructive power of that lava as it pushes across roads, neighborhoods and houses, incinerating everything in its path. Just like the warning of the volcanologists, Christian social commentators have long called attention to a building cultural wave that would wipe out long held standards of biblical truth upon which the very foundations of Western civilization have long stood. And true to those dire predictions, it seems that our common culture is now being relentlessly inundated on multiple fronts and like the lava, moves slowly toward radical alteration in the terrain of our culture.
How foolish it would be to see someone standing in front of the lava, trying to reason with it, patiently explaining how important it is for the molten rock to not destroy his home. Fire burns. That’s what it does and by its nature and it will continue to consume everything in its path until everything is consumed, or it is stopped. But as with the man trying to speak to the lava, isn’t it equally as ineffective attempt to reason with the tsunami of media hysteria that floods the university campuses, corporate boardrooms and social forums and drowns out all discussion?
Where the analogy falls short is that with lava (and the ensuing fires that it brings), you are dealing with a natural force that with enough effort and ingenuity (and money) can often be halted. However, the tide of social change whose aim is to unravel and replace everything that that has ever been built upon a foundation of God’s revealed truth is not natural. It is supernatural, and it is evil.
The problem for the average believer is that against such a complicated and large problem, it’s easy to feel ineffective and helpless. So, in the face of such a gathering firestorm, is there anything a Bible-believing follower of Christ can do? What is the godly course of action when it’s time to stand up and be counted as faithful when every voice in the room is against you?
As troubling as these current times can be for believers, the new Christian church of Paul’s day faced many of the same assaults, and the Apostle’s comforting counsel on how to properly equip and arm themselves is just as relevant today as it was when it was penned.
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. ~ Ephesians 6:14-17
Most believers have heard ample teaching on the armor of God and how important its use is in our battle with unseen spiritual forces, so I won’t take time to step through each individual piece here. Instead, I’ll take a minute to summarize the essence of what Paul was trying to say.
Truth is paramount. And not truth ‘as you see it’ or what ‘you feel is right.’ Truth as written in the Word of God. Before you attempt to stand against any kind of evil, you must know what, and in Whom you have believed. This is the believer’s ultimate defense and strongest offense. It under girds and strengthens everything a believer in Christ does. No matter how much ability you have, what resources you can wield or how sharp your arguments appear, all of those things will ultimately be ineffective if the foundation under you gives way.
In addition, remember that the armor of God works as a unified system. No effective soldier wears only a helmet or opts for a single pair of combat boots. So, before you can move forward or exert any force to ‘stand firm’ against the slow and destructive assault of this age, just consider this: If it is faith (unshakable trust in our Savior and Lord) that shields us against Satan’s attacks, then on what is this faith resting, if not the truth (belt) of the Gospel and on what is it based if not the Gospel of peace (shoes), which is what ultimately where we find our righteousness (breastplate)?
With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying. (Eph. 6:18)
Interestingly, most discussions about the armor of God stop at verse 17, but verse 18 adds significantly to the whole picture. Who wears armor if not a soldier? Does a warrior go off to battle independently like some free agent or loose cannon? Of course not! If a battle is to be effective, it must be coordinated by a commanding officer who has information crucial to victory. As believers, if we are to receive our “orders”, petition for guidance, and be given deeper training, how would we do that other than through the holy discipline of prayer? It must be an integral part of any spiritual battle.
So, as we watch the onslaught continue against God’s kingdom, we can take comfort in the knowledge that He has not left his people unprepared! Through prayer, study and application of the Word, and by daily putting on the full armor of God, we can be sure that even though the destruction continues to burn hot around us, we know that in the end, God and all the stand with Him, will endure!