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Summary: A new take on The "whole armour of God" with reference to Eddie Izzard's "Cake or death", Francis of Assisi preaching to the Sultan, Jeremy Corbyn and Liz kendell, Martin Luther King and Our Lady's bible learning habits.

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“I am an ambassador in chains” [Eph6:20] writes St Paul

“pray for me so that when I speak a message may be given to make known with BOLDNESS the mystery of the Gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains”

Probably many of us- possibly most of us know this glorious passage from Ephesians about putting on the whole armour of God.

If I aksed you to finish the phrase “The breast plate of…” “the belt of ….” “the helmet of….” “the sword of…” many of you can probably finish those.

And if I had begun at the beginning of this passage, you wouldn’t be at all surprised.

“Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power, put on the whole armour of God so that you might be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” [Ephesians 6:10-11]

But I believe that if we are really to get to grips with this passage, if we are really to understand it, we have to start not at the beginning but at the end.

“I am an ambassador in chains” [Eph6:20]

“pray for me so that when I speak a message may be given to make known with boldness the mystery of the Gospel for which I AM AN AMBASSADOR IN CHAINS”

We often have a very macho view of what Spiritual Warfare is all about. We like to picture ourselves as the Spirit-filled equivalent of Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger. “Be bold”. “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power” And I guess on a spiritual level perhaps we are like that - but I think there is a danger in using macho language, because we can forget what true strength in Jesus looks like.

Paul - the macho hero of our faith - is sitting in a prison cell, probably been beaten up, sometimes physically chained [mime it out] each arm to a different Roman Soldier. It is not your usual picture of what it means to be strong.This is not Rambo - this is Nelson Mandela in Robin Island. This is not Iron Man or the Avengers - this is Martin Luther King on a bad day in a Southern Jail cell.

And Paul looks at the Roman Soldiers - possibly sometimes literally chained next to him - he gets a good view - and he looks at their armour with its belt and breastplate and shoes and shield and helmet and sword. That Roman Soldier who thinks he is so mighty powerful … not realising that the man he has got chained up, the man he has probably beaten up …. this weakling, this wretch is a man who through his God is so powerful that 20 centuries later his writings are still changing the world.

Paul looks at the Roman soldier in his armour - perhaps Paul is reminded of a story in the Old Testament - where a seven foot giant Goliath appears on the battle field in the most splendid armour and challenges the Isrealites to send a champion to fight in single combat. The greatest warriors of Israel look at him and… “oh I am sorry, I am busy today, perhaps someone else would like to fight him?” None of these great warriors will fight Golliath. Then up comes a shepherd boy David - far too young, but he offers to fight. King Saul tries to clothe him in his armour, but little David refuses. Trusting only that “the Lord who saved me from the paw of the bear and the paw of the lion will save me from the hand of the philistine” [1 Samuel 17:37] “You {Goliath} come to me with Sword and Spear and Javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts” [1 Samuel 17:35]


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