Today’s readings are 1 Samuel 5 and Colossians 2:1-7
We move into a new era as the Philistines take charge of God’s Ark (1 Sam 5) and and we move from the Lord’s Unity Prayer (John 17) to being led by His disciple Paul in our faith in Christ and resistance to the deceit and cunning of the world in which we live. (Coll 2:1-7).
The Philistines, we read, are learning about what it is like to live with something of God’s in their midst and without faith in this God. Their own idol is symbolically bowed before the sacred Ark twice and on the second occasion looses its hands and head. The town’s people in three towns to which the Ark is taken become ill and either die or are stricken with tumors. So much fear enters each town that the people want the Ark moved elsewhere. In the third town the panic and fear were so great as dying and tumors occurred after the Ark arrived that “… (v12) the outcry of the city went up to heaven.”
And yet in the short reading from Colossians there is a very different and opposite picture painted. Paul, in this epistle, paints for us a picture of a servant of Christ, who is contending for his believing family so that “… (v2b) they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, (v3) in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
We begin to wonder why this is relevant until we read the next sentence. “(v)4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.”
Much of what occurs around and against us today sounds like ‘reasonable’ arguments. Some popular slogans for change that have been around for some time include, ‘abortion on demand’, ‘same sex marriage’, ‘there is no god’, ‘I can do what I like’, and many more that leave out Christ and His sacrifice for us. A dangerous idea that we should accept the great sacrifice of the Almighty Living God and live in faith in His crucified son Jesus Christ.
As we struggle with these cultural changes that the nation is told is popular among the nation’s people Paul also writes to us today as Christ’s servant with these words ‘(6) So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, (7) rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.‘
We too as members of the family of Christ, called Christians, need to live as a community of grace, acknowledging each other and working with and praying for our brothers and sisters as we all struggle with the false arguments that want us to leave our faith and God’s standards and accept those cultural norms that are not of God.
Ephesians 6 contains these words for us to prepare for the mission work God has for us to do together: (v10) Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. (11) Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. (12) For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (13) Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (14) Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, (15) and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. (16) In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (17) Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
(18) And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Perhaps you will recall much of the Charles Wesley hymn “Soldiers of Christ arise and put your armour on.“. Although written in 1741 it too seeks to remind us through its strong language and rousing tune that we have a here-and-now mission for and with Christ that requires us to be prepared and actively work at spreading the word of the gospel of God’s freedom and justice for all people together with our sisters and brothers.
May We HIS People be prepared always in this way to serve our God.