Thom Rainer of Lifeway Christian Resources wrote a blog article in which he compiled a list of 25 odd church arguments. I narrowed it down to 10, including a couple I’ve heard previously. (I’ve included a brief describer with color commentary for each).
1. color of roof shingles- sit under their own color
2. what kind of carpet- is flying an option?
3. chairs or pews- one person declared they’d buy chairs when God told them to buy chairs
4. allow people to wear black t-shirts, since black is the color of the devil- thought it was red
5. if a clock in the worship center should be removed- was a rather time-consuming debate
6. which picture of Jesus to put in the foyer- who took the pictures- Lifetouch/Olan Mills
7. allow deviled eggs at the church meal- set them next to the angel food cake
8. should the worship leader have his shoes on during the service- no shoes/shirt/service
9. “potluck” instead of “pot blessing”- good thing we call them carry-ins
10. appropriate length of the associate minister’s beard- Terri (my wife) won this one
We laugh about these things- sadly, there are places where all of these have happened. Why?
They forgot who the enemy is and turned on each other. But Paul says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
How do we avoid making the same mistakes? We need to choose our weapons wisely. Paul wrote, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (Ephesians 6:13)
Why would we need this armor of God? Paul describes the battlefield like this- “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
Can you imagine being in a battle like this and choosing to not wear your armor? Suicide! I once found this prayer to be a great reminder of just how difficult the struggle can be.
Dear Lord, So far I've done alright. I haven't gossiped, haven't lost my temper, haven't been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent. I'm glad about that. But in a few minutes, God, I'm going to get out of bed. And from then on, I'm going to need a lot more help.
The battle starts from the moment we get up until the time we fall asleep. As the great theologian MC Hammer once said- we’ve got to pray just to make it today! What’s our armor?
Belt of Truth
Why start with a belt? It’s not very large, doesn’t cover much area, didn’t even have one of those great big cowboy buckles like you could find at the fair last week.
This belt is truth- we live in a world that proclaims “There is no such thing as absolute truth.”
Look at that statement- in order to be right, it has to be true, if it is true, it has to be right
Jesus says- “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
How does having the truth help us?
Sets us free
“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
Weight of sin, bringing it to Jesus releases us from that guilt
“Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
Allows us to be prepared
“Therefore, preparing your minds for action (girding up the loins of your mind), and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:13)
The belt holds everything in place so that one can move quickly while securing weapon
Police chasing thug who forgot to wear a belt
Guides us into safe paths
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
Having the truth helps us see the way and avoid dangerous cliffs
Breastplate of Righteousness
Breastplate protects the vital organs
So it is with righteousness
“Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:12)
The devil would like nothing better to see God’s people fall
How quick the world is to point out failures
Bring every thought into captivity to obedience of Christ
Shoes of Readiness Given by the Gospel of Peace
Having the right footwear can make all the difference in the world
Basketball shoes in HS- Nike vs generic
According to the Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary
“The military successes both of Alexander the Great and of Julius Caesar were due in large measure to their armies being well shod and thus able to undertake long marches at incredible speed over rough terrain.”
The shoes provide a foundation for the soldier- layers of leather- comfort, prevent problems
Nails/spikes- provide traction/solid footing
Spiritual shoes- gospel of peace
People are searching for peace in their lives, often restless
We have the good news that they need- despite rebellion, God sent His Son
As Jesus put it- “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)
You’ve heard the saying- “If you’re going to talk the talk, you also have to walk the walk.”
Do you have the proper shoes?
Shield of Faith
Satan tries to chip away at our faith- flaming darts, half truths
Did God really say that, did He really mean it that way
People try to pick and choose the parts that they like to follow, explain away the rest
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
The author continues with a list of men and women who, despite faults, lived by faith
Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab- just starting
Faith protects us- look at Daniel and his friends- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
Soldiers working together- linking shields
Helmet of Salvation
Helmet protects the head, it’s salvation that’s been provided by Jesus that protects us
Obtain salvation “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)
Paul describes salvation as a helmet because it doesn’t end there
He tells us to “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12)
You see, we don’t do good things to get saved, we do good things because we are saved
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Two things I want you to notice about these weapons at this point
1. All these weapons are defensive in nature, not intended for attack but to protect
2. All these weapons cover the front of the soldier, not intended for retreat but to stand
Sword of the Spirit
The Bible is the sword of the Spirit, helps conquer enemies and gets one in trouble with police
But seriously, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
This is the most powerful weapon in existence
Jesus’ temptations- stone to bread, jump from temple, worship Satan- rule the world
Works for us too- but we have to know our weapon, swordsman must practice
“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)
When we store up God’s word, we are able to discern right from wrong and defeat Satan
Paul ends this section encouraging us to pray fervently for ourselves, for each other and for the work of the Church.
“Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Ephesians 6:18-20)
If you want to best stand, get on your knees. Prayer keeps us focused on the battle, draws us to the source of our strength, and reminds God of our devotion to Him.
Friends, we are at war, fortunately, we already know the outcome.
It’s time to choose our weapons. It begins by choosing Christ.