Summary: The Shield of Faith
Stand and Fight: Playing with Fire
Beartown Road Alliance Church
July 29th, 2007
We used to play a lot of great games when I was a youth pastor. For the adults, our favorite games were always the week before school started up again. We were gearing up for our huge school year kick-off event and because of all of the work and preparation that went into that, the week before we would spend the entire youth group time just playing around and blowing off steam. The only thing that we told the kids was “come prepared to get messy!” One year we played homemade twister with plates of oatmeal, pudding, baked beans, jell-o, and cat food. Most years we played a few games with eggs. It rained one year so we went inside and had a marshmallow fight! That took about 6 months for your shoes to stop sticking to the carpet. We had a lot of fun and always made a huge mess!
There was one constant every year, we always did something with water balloons. We would usually fill up about 800-1000 balloons. One of the games we played was a version of capture the flag. You had two teams and divided the area into two sides with each kid getting only two balloons. The object was to get onto the other team’s side and hit their queen with a balloon. Now, if you got hit with a balloon on the other team’s side, you were out. Each team had a queen and 2 bodyguards. The bodyguards had trash can lids for shields and their sole purpose was to protect the queen. The kids would take this very seriously and would throw themselves around blocking balloons. If they didn’t have the shields, they never would have been able to protect the queen from attack. They got pretty good at this game so one year, we had the adults go on the roof of the church with about 6 water balloon launchers. We launched these balloons, one on top of the other and they couldn’t keep their queen dry. Finally, one team figured out how to defend against these long range attacks. The bodyguards knelt down, put the shields together, and hid the queen between them. No matter how many balloons we launched, we couldn’t hit her, she was safe behind the shield. We drilled a bunch of other poor, unsuspecting and unprotected kids, but with the shields in place, the queen was safe.
As we turn back to Ephesians, this morning, Paul introduces another aspect of spiritual warfare, another way that Satan works. He has equipped and prepared us for fighting at close range, now he reveals Satan’s next step. When our integrity is in place, when our righteousness is fastened on, and when our heels have dug in, and Satan can’t get at us from close range, he changes tactics.
We’ve looked at the belt of Truth. This is a life that measures up to God’s standard of Truth. It is the character of integrity. This is what holds the rest of the armor in place and keeps us from tripping over ourselves. We’ve looked at the breastplate of righteousness. This is the character of godliness. It describes our position before God, He looks at us and sees righteousness because of our faith in Jesus. It also has to do with our actions; we are to choose to do what is right. Last week we looked a the importance of the shoes. We are to wear, like shoes, the readiness of the gospel of Peace. We have peace with God, the peace of God, and are called to have peace with others. That’s the gospel of peace, and the readiness that Paul talks about is that we are to be ready to stand our ground, by knowing what we believe. We are to be ready to take new ground by growing in our faith. And we are to be ready to go where God calls us to go and proclaim the good news of the gospel to all who will hear it.
So that is the armor that we have looked at so far. Each piece is something that God has put on, at least in part, for us. Now, we get to a piece of the armor that we are commanded to take up. Paul changes gears for the last few pieces of armor. The first three are essential parts of our character and will protect us in close combat with Satan. Once Satan sees that our belt is tightened, our breastplate is secure, and our feet are dug in, he goes a different route and begins to attack from a distance and see if he can sneak an arrow in past our defenses.
I have had many proud moments as a father. I have also had some moments where my father’s license should probably be revoked. When Ethan was about two, we were messing around in the back yard playing catch and I threw one ball up really high. As he watched that one, I threw another one right at him on a direct line. I don’t know what I was expecting to happen or why I thought beating up a two year old would be funny, but the ball hit him in the forehead a second before the other one landed on his head. Long story short, he cried, Erin looked at me like I was the planet’s biggest loser and we had a rather awkward moment. But, in this case, Ethan had one thing covered and got nailed by another. Paul paints a picture here of Satan trying this very tactic. If we are going to cover ourselves from one attack, he’s going to come from another angle at the same time and see if he can catch us unaware. He’s willing to try everything, close range and lobbing arrows at us from a distance to try and take us out.