Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil (Ephesians 6:11).
Pastor Erwin McManus, in a sermon titled Seizing Your Divine Moment, shares the following story about his son Aaron.
One summer Aaron went to a youth camp. He was just a little guy and I was kind of glad because it was a church camp. I figured he wasn’t going to hear all those ghost stories, because ghost stories can really cause a kid to have nightmares. But unfortunately, since it was a Christian camp and they don’t tell ghost stories . . . they told demon and Satan stories instead. And so when Aaron got home he was terrified.
“Dad, don’t turn off the light!” he said before going to bed. “Daddy, could you stay here with me? Daddy, I’m afraid. They told all these stories about demons . . . “Daddy, Daddy, would you pray for me that I would be safe?”
I could feel it. I could feel warm-blanket Christianity beginning to wrap around him, a life of safety, safety, safety. I said, “Aaron, I will not pray for you to be safe. I will pray that God will make you dangerous, so dangerous that demons will flee when you enter the room.”
And he goes, “All right. But pray I would be really, really dangerous, Daddy.”
I know too well the lure of “warm-blanket Christianity.” The phrase reminds me of those TV commercials for something called a “Snuggie” – basically a blanket with sleeves so you can literally slip it on and wear it around your house.
When we slip on our spiritual “Snuggie” our prayers become a means of increasing our comforts. We want good health for ourselves and those we love; we want adequate income and meaningful friendships; we want to be shielded from what can harm us; we want the American dream and everything that comes with it, and we appeal to God to help us attain it.
Such prayers are not intentionally greedy or fearful. After all, a much-loved Psalm tells us that the Lord, our good shepherd, will lead us to green pastures and still waters. His rod and staff will comfort us (Psalm 23:1-4).
Prayers that seek solace are not bad prayers. But neither are they complete. God wants to make us dangerous and not merely safe. God promises to give us courage, not just comfort. God will fill us with his power in addition to his peace.
Clever and Relentless
1 Peter 5:8 tells us that we have an enemy. There is a personal presence at work in the world, actively seeking to diminish and ultimately destroy your faith in God and your life as a follower of Jesus. Peter likens this adversary to a lion, prowling and hungry, eager to devour you.
For the next three weeks we’re going to be thinking about “spiritual warfare” – what is it, how do we know we’re in it, and how do we engage it rather than hide from it. This topic may be a familiar one to some of you. Others of you may come from traditions that regard such matters as belonging to the pew-jumpers and Bible-thumpers.
Regardless of what you call it, this is true of every person who seeks to live a life of faith: you have an adversary. This adversary is clever and relentless. And the point of struggle or conflict that occupies your thoughts today has a spiritual dimension – whether you know it or not.
What will it mean for you to put on the full armor of God and to ready yourself for a fight? How will you seek something more than safety, living dangerously as you follow Jesus through this day?
Too often, O God, I ask for what will make me comfortable and keep me safe. Today I’m asking you to make me dangerous – a threat to the presence of evil in this world and the brokenness it brings about. Use me today as means of blessing. Empower me to carry your light into places that are dark. Make me bold to live as one called to engage the adversary, and give me what I need for the fight, I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.