Sunday, July 08, 2007

No Suit of Armor

Pretty cool, huh? Probably not the most comfortable outfit available, but you have to admit it's a head-turner.

No, I don't have one. Really, I don't have much use for one. But it's funny how my five-year-old daughter reminded me of how some people treat their religious works as if they made some sort of inpenitrable barrier.

My darling princess was doing one of the things she does most (and best), namely pulling out toys to share with us, then leaving them lay all over the house. This time she pulled out pieces of an old Halloween costume. I think one of the boys dressed up as a crusader or a member of The Lord's Army or something like that. So as my wife and I lay in bed, Girlie-girl brings in the breastplate and the small arm shield from the armor set. She laid the breastplate on my wife's chest and handed me the shield and told me to put it on my arm. Well, this big ol' man doesn't fit well into armholes made for small children. I tried to explain this to the Princess, but that was about the time she was ready to move on to the next toy. So I was left to contemplate the armor.

I'll be honest -- nothing much got contemplated. But this morning it hit me.

Do you know someone who places his or her confidence in his or her church membership? What about overconfidence in baptism or in being board president or a Sunday School teacher? I've seen plenty of these people. They always seem to think that they are immune from temptation, or at least from committing any really bad sins. After all, they are the "real" Christians.

These are the people who seem to think that God puts them into a suit of armor. Nothing bad can happen when you're wearing a suit of armor.

The trouble is, God doesn't give us a suit of armor. He gives us a shield. We're not protected from all attacks of temptation no matter what. We're provided a way out of temptation that we have to look for and use.

I know people who have no concern over their own sinfulness. "God will forgive," they say as they go on their merry sinful way. The hypocrisy drips from their chiding of the "real sinners" they see along the way.

Yet when Paul took the Corinthians to task in 1 Corinthians 10, he pointed out that God provides a way out of temptation. He did not say that we will never be tempted. We are given a shield, not a suit of armor. We must be aware of where we are easily tempted. If you are drawn toward Internet porn, you shouldn't be sitting alone with your computer. If you crave the partying lifestyle, you shouldn't be hanging out in bars, even if you think it's a great place to witness.

Temptation will sneak up on us. We must be aware of our situation. We know God will give us the way out -- the shield -- but we must use it. That's always my sticking point. I see the temptation coming. I know I have the shield. I just more-than-occasionally refuse to use it. And I'm betting you're the same way.

Sure, a suit of armor would be easier, but God puts the responsibility on our shoulders. And the shield on our arm.

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