"He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything."
Colossians 1:18

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Bold and Martial Livery of the Faithful Christian Soldier

A person can go through his or her whole life and not know what a ghillie suit is.  Indeed, you may read this and think to yourself, "Yes, and I would be quite content."  Indulge me but a moment, though, and be assured of a spiritual component directly.

Ghillie suits are wearable coverings intended to closely simulate natural foliage.  They are worn and cherished by military snipers, civilian hunters, and, inexplicably, by ardent proponents of a false and absurd machismo whose experience with foliage consists solely of removing it from their lawns with a rake and plastic bag.

That aside (I write with an admitted chuckle), the ghillie suit represents perhaps the pinnacle of camoflage (if not practicality), which is of course a pressing concern for militaries the world over, which endlessly seek to devise a better way to conceal their soldiers in plain view.  This is why, by and large, one does not see frontline soldiers parading about in bright yellow (although the clamor of decency and basic fashion might factor into this as well) - it does not trick the eye; it is not camoflage.  It will draw attention and thus draw fire (and ridicule). 

Now, when we picture the Christian soldier, arrayed for battle and attentive to the commands of our divine Captain, we see no camoflage.  This is a curiosity, for the battles that rage in the spiritual realm, and in which all of Christendom must take part, are for far higher stakes than territories or rights.  We fight for the good pleasure of our Lord - our long campaign is a running war to escape temptation, and we make careful forays into strongholds of darkness, seeking only the spoils of lost souls for our Lord's kingdom (Jude 23).

One would suppose, then, that we would desire to employ every advantage close at hand for this, the most important warfare in all the world, but interestingly, on these fields of battle, camoflage is entirely unbecoming.  Think what camoflage is in this case - if we Christians desire to blend into our surroundings, "camoflage" is merely another word for "worldiness," for our surroundings are the world of the unredeemed.

On direct opposition to this, we are exhorted in Ephesians 6:14 to buckle the breastplate of righteousness firmly into place.  We conclude from the defensive nature that Paul attributes to righteousness here that it is meant to protect us, and, of course, a moment's reflection will prove the truth of this.  The arrows of evil will always find their mark unless we strive for righteousness - the righteousness which comes from the power of God and is therefore sufficient to turn aside every treacherous barb of temptation. 

Naturally, the course of righteous living will render us conspicuous and will thus cause us to draw additional fire - just as the soldier who leads the charge or fights more fiercely will attract more attention.  Spurning the temptations that cause unbelievers not a moment of hesitation or consideration will turn us into objects of curiosity,and, many times, derision.  There are those who make it their duty to induce a Christian to commit those acts which are clearly sinful - laughing at the wrong jokes, reacting to verbal stings with anger, and so forth.  We know even that Satan was interested in Job even before God pointed Job out to him. 

It is ironic, then, that the unique characteristic that protects us is the selfsame one that causes us to need that protection all the more.  God has made it thus so that He may prove Himself both the only and the sufficient source of our strength - we will never do on our own what His power in us accomplishes so simply.  And God's strength, sent in righteousness and sent for righteousness, is indifferent to the stir and clamor it causes in realms of evil - if its presence serves to increase the volleys of trial, then so be it! This power turns aside a thousand temptations with no greater effort than it does one, and this so often defines the struggle of the Christian life, does it not?  So often, the biggest obstacle we face is simply getting it into our obstinate hearts that God's strength is sufficient and suited to the temptation of the moment, and letting this belief galvanize us to convicted action.

Apart from God's blessings, we wither under the slightest assault, but with His grace empowering our souls, we can stand firm and stand again, though the attacks against us are doubled, re-doubled, and brought to an ardent boil. 

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
     - Psalm 18:2


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