A TV commercial for a home security company shows a family returning home to find their house ransacked, with most of their possessions either destroyed or stolen. That night, the mother struggles to comfort their frightened daughter.
Then they get security system installed. The mom says “that burglar took more than just our possessions; he took our peace of mind. But now, we have it back.”
Peace of mind—that comfort that comes in knowing that everything’s going to be okay... A burglar alarm may be able to give you some peace of mind, at least as it concerns protecting your family and your property from fires or thieves. But a complete peace of mind—a life with no worries—is far more elusive...
We’re in an age of catastrophic natural disasters; Ponzi schemes and corporate scandals; identity theft; mass shootings; cyber bullying; rising costs; high poverty and unemployment. Greed and immorality run amok. The way to live the good life is to do as you please, with no regard for others (and sometimes not even yourself).
And all along, unbelief continues to spread—as does the belief that God’s Word is just another book, and that you can be saved by being a good person.
It’s always been a scary world—but by all indications, things are getting worse by the day. Peace of mind is a long way off—and we don’t feel safe.
This was a fear the early Christians in the ancient city of Ephesus knew very well. Being a Christian in their day made you more than just a social outcast; you were an enemy of the state—because you didn’t worship the gods of the Roman Empire that ruled over you. But religious persecution wasn’t their only hardship... They lived within an economy that functioned only for the benefit of the elites—so many suffered unjust wages, poor working conditions, and high taxes to boot. These Christians lived in poverty as well as in fear.
The letter we know as Ephesians speaks a truth that remains unchanged—that Christians are caught up in a cosmic battle between good and evil. Jesus did win the victory on the cross and at the tomb—but the demonic forces are not about to admit defeat. They remain on the prowl to capture the hearts and minds of God’s people, and take them down with them in defeat. And every day, we are battered by this evil; whether we’re suffering and illness or a natural disaster, or we’re suffering because of evil people.
The devil and his minions will not stop until you become an evildoer, or you be crushed by fear and despair and helplessness. The devil’s victory is for you to know neither the life nor the love of your Savior.
Yet we are not alone against all this hate.
God gives us the protection we need: the full armor of God.
To the Ephesians, God’s armor equaled the armor of the Roman soldiers, who themselves were the embodiment of the Empire’s evils. With the full armor of God, no Christian is left helpless or defenseless against the daily onslaught of evil.
We are called to stand firm as the battle is fought for our souls and for the world we live in. Our faith is not a quest to escape the world as it goes down in flames. We are to stand firm as one Body in Christ, in defiance of evil. Jesus struck the death blow when he saved the world on the cross and rose from the tomb. The enemy’s defeat is already going on. So our call is to stand together, shoulder-to-shoulder, to participate in Jesus’ triumphal victory.
We put on the belt of truth; the truth being that this is our Father’s world—and God will not lose it to the forces of evil.
We put on the breastplate of righteousness; overcoming evil deeds with actions of love and peace.
We put on shoes so to go and proclaim to the least and the lost of the world that they belong to Jesus—and that they are saved by his body and blood.
We take up the shield of faith, believing in Christ’s victory even amid the onslaught of evil.
We take the helmet of salvation, through which we are assured that we are safe in God’s care when evil attacks.
Finally, we take the sword of the Holy Spirit who brings an end to all the cosmic forces that defy God.
All told, evil is no match for a believer who is baptized into Jesus Christ.
As we go forth to engage the enemy in battle, we must remember that this is not your typical war.
Even though the world is full of evil, the world is not the enemy. God so loved this world that he gave his only Son so that it would be redeemed through him. We are to love the world and its people as Jesus does.
Our work is to heal; to build up; to reclaim. Therefore, we are not to fight evil with hate and destruction. If we as Christians speak and act in hate and condemnation towards those who are in darkness, we’re just playing into the devil’s hands. People won’t see Christ in us; they won’t see a gracious redeemer in us. Isn’t that what the devil wants?
This doesn’t mean that we should be silent in the face of hate and greed and violence. But it does mean that we must stand boldly and gently—because we don’t have the power to change people.
Christians don’t fight fire with fire. We defeat the enemy when we fall to our knees, be it in prayer or to eat and drink of Christ’s flesh and blood. We defeat the enemy with worship and witness. We defeat the enemy when we forgive sins. We defeat the enemy when we stand together and join Christ in filling the world with peace and justice.
We can’t change the world on our own—but we can and we will when we participate in Jesus Christ.
Though this world remains frightening and scary, and though it will never again be as good as we may remember it to have been in the past, our hope is sure. This world belongs to Jesus—as do all the battles we face with each day.
Our peace of mind comes in knowing that there is nothing that can take us away from the care and keeping of our Savior. Evil will not win the battle for our world or for our lives. Let us go forth in the victory of our Lord.