Last week was probably one of the darkest times in many people’s lives. We have been traumatized by 10 months of fear, isolation, confusion over the Pandemic and the outcome of the US Presidential election. The Readings challenge us to be people of the light in this darkness. We are to have a faith, love and hope that encourages those ensnared the darkness of fear, confusion and hopelessness. Paul teaches us to not be found sleeping when Jesus returns. We are to use the gifts our master Jesus gives us to grow in love, faith and hope by putting on the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet of hope and salvation.
Notice that he was not accused of the usual sins we think of as preventing inclusion in the Kingdom of God - murder, adultery; Idolatry, lust etc.? He was condemned because he was lazy and lacked the love, faith and hope to overcome the darkness:
- . He did not value, develop or use the gifts Jesus / his master, gave him
- · He did not really love or "believe in Jesus" / his master
2. We are to be awake spiritually - Not a "Slumbering Spirit"
John and Paula Sandford use this term to define a condition where a personal spirit has not been called to life and is slumbering. Normally our personal spirit is called to life as it senses the warm love and affection of parents. The love of our parents enables us to develop an emotional life, love God and love others. Our personal spirit is the emotional / intuitive part of us that connects us to God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and others
- · I share my own experience of being called to spiritual life through the love of my wife Lucille in "Going Spiritual”.
- · The intuition of our personal spirit enables us to move from knowing about the Holy Spirit intellectually; to the knowledge of personal experiences of the Holy Spirit
- Experiences of the divine in our lives are the building blocks of faith, trust, hope and love.
3. We are to put on the breastplate of Faith and Love
The breastplate and helmet were the two most important pieces of armour for a Roman soldier. The “breastplate” is to remind us that our hearts are vulnerable to attack. The Bible clearly teaches us that Satan and temptation is always a real and spiritually fatal danger (especially for Christians who don't believe this).
- · Faith in the heart or trust in Jesus comes from our experiences of being protected, forgiven and healed through prayer. We need to pray this armour on daily.
- · Love - real self-sacrificial love grows through faith and experience
- · An emotional relationship of love of Jesus gives us the courage to overcome our fear.
4. We are to put on the hope of salvation as a helmet
Our minds are often deceived and ruled by our fear. We are afraid of sickness and death as the end of our life. Non-believers are subconsciously (in their personal spirit) afraid of death as a time of judgement and punishment.
- · As we develop our spiritual life, Jesus becomes a real person for us and we develop hope of salvation and eternal spiritual life. We can pray on the helmet of salvation daily.
- · Belief in forgiveness and personal salvation through the sacrificial death of Jesus enables us to overcome our fears and live a life of hope, joy and peace
4. We are to “encourage” each other a light in the darkness
In this dark time Christians are called to proclaim the Good News of forgiveness, healing and hope in Jesus with urgency!