Missing some fine print is not too troublesome, but past regrets for having overlooked the now dreaded words ‘some assembly required,’ have made me more diligent in that department. I’ve labored over a 20-page instruction manual, one with no words, just cute little line drawings. I’ve also had more detailed how-to’s printed in 6 different languages, none of which helped much. One of the last ‘projects,’ a smallish shelving unit, had a perforated backer board that had 84 microscopic screws to hold it on. Let’s just say a power screwdriver would have been handy. Better yet, a fully assembled unit!
I’m so grateful that the Christian’s armor Paul talks about in Ephesians 6 isn’t provided to us with small print that reads: some assembly required. It’s all sturdily and Divinely put together and ready to serve us on our journey, this journey that includes hand-to-hand combat, flaming arrows, evil seductions, and insidious lies. More, the Holy Spirit always stand at the ready to help us ‘get dressed’ in the various pieces.
I’m particularly struck by the provision of holiness. It’s a strange word, awkward in the 21stCentury, having succumbed to the widespread connotation of being uselessly otherworldly, condescending, disapproving, stuffy, dull, killjoy. And yet, the unchanging Word of God says it is a warrior’s provision for battle. So how does a largely sidelined word find its place again for today’s believers? It is translated as righteousness also, but that is even less well defined in our day and, therefore, not much more helpful.
Maybe we can come at a definition the other way around, by considering its opposite, which I’ll call ‘self-orbiting’ as in: self-righteous, self-conscious, self-seeking, self-absorbed, self-promoting, self-pitying, or any other self- combo one could think of. Admittedly, our old nature, our Adamic nature, is powerfully skewed in the direction of self. So strong is this draw, in fact, that the only effective antidote to its magnetic pull is crucifixion, which Jesus submitted to on our behalf on the cross. The Apostle Paul urges us to consider ourselves crucified with Christ, buried with him and risen with him. All self-orbiting gets crushed in this process. Once crushed, we are freed to skew toward our in-Christ life, orbiting around all that is true of him (think ‘holy’). Isn’t it incredible? The hard work part of holiness has been accomplished for us. Self has become the awkward passé word and holiness has become fresh and du jour again! PD