Justin Hiebert

Catalyzing Change

Rocking the full armor

Posted on 29 Sep 2013 in Bible, Christianity, Discipleship, Ministry, missional theology, Teaching | 3 comments

Garden Park finished its study through Ephesians today, discussing what it means to put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20).

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Here are a few snippets:

Rocking the full armor

Rocking the full armor

  • The belt of truth: The truth of the resurrection (and its importance) in the lives of individual believers and the gathered community. If we don’t really think this mattered (or don’t live like it matters), then what’s the point of doing/practicing anything else? The truth of the importance of the Gospel holds everything else together. We too easily forget to consistently remind ourselves that the resurrection not only happened, but actually makes a difference.
  • The breastplate of righteousness: Our ‘right standing’ with God. The devil’s schemes attack issues of our heart, integrity, and can cause us to doubt God’s immense and undying love for us. Equipping ourselves with this is reminding ourselves that yes, God is that crazy about us.
  • The gospel (shoes) of peace: Shoes serve two functions, they provide us protection from the elements and the ground, and they provide mobility. Equipping ourselves with the shoes of peace is no different. We experience peace and reconciliation with God and others, and agree to become agents of God joining him in his mission to call and restore the world to a place of peace. This is about living as a tangible witness of God in our communities, extending to them the call to join God’s movement of peace.
  • The shield of faith: Like a Greek phalanx, the Roman war shields were large and protected not only yourself, but those on either side you. As a community of God’s people, our faith should work to sustain not only ourselves, but uphold and encourage others gathered with us. Faith is not a static, once said prayer, but an active encouraging and equipping of the saints to trust God’s faithfulness and work in the world.
  • The helmet of salvation: Sad truth, we’ve all sinned. Frustrating part, we’ve all come to believe (at one point in time or another) that God can’t save us because of that sin, or if he can, we really need to make it up to him first. But that’s not grace. The world tells us to get our own, look out for ourselves, and keep our own interests in mind. Not so in God’s kingdom. Since he’s got our back, we are free to look after others. Sin, at it’s root, is choosing yourself above others. Salvation (lit: ‘to make wide open’) is about experiencing the freedom of Christ, and the freedom from needing to worry about ourselves and the opportunity to extend care and concerns for others.
  • Sword of the Spirit: Too often we think of this as the Bible, except that the Bible hadn’t been written yet (at least large portions of the New Testament) and certainly hadn’t been compiled yet. Also awkward to read it this way is Paul’s command in 5:26 where he first mentions the word. Instead, our one offensive weapon (the rest have been for defensive purposes) is not the Bible, but God’s power and transformation in his people. In chapter 5 Paul uses it to talk about how women should be baptized in church, showing them as full equal members. They aren’t a sub-class or lesser being, but full in duty, responsibility, gifting, and calling. Here in chapter 6, it’s about the church living faithfully on mission, showing itself as a transformed and redeemed community, a place of salt and light to a world in need. Is the church marked by God’s identity, calling, and work? Are his people first and foremost categorized by their care for others and as peace bringers?

Which, of course, can raise some troubling realizations for our churches. If the first description of your church (by a non-church goer) isn’t, “There’s really something different about them, they way they care for each other and their neighborhood. Maybe there really is something to that Jesus guy….” then I think Paul would say the church is failing.

Like Lencioni’s leadership pyramid, I think we can look at church effectiveness by peeling off the layers backward. If the above statement isn’t the first description from neighborhood people, how do we treat salvation? Are we still greedy and looking for our own needs (fighting over carpet color) or sacrificing that for others sake? If you struggle here, keep moving backward. Is your faith passive (glad I said the prayer) or active (encouraging each other)? Have you (and your church) decided to join God in his mission to redeem all things? Do you know that God is crazy about you? And lastly, if you struggle here, no wonder the rest isn’t working: do you actually believe (and live accordingly) that the resurrection matters and actually makes a difference in the world? If you don’t believe it, or don’t live like it, no wonder the rest isn’t falling into place.

Our calling as the church is to join God in advancing his Kingdom (disciple-making), his pronouncement to Peter was that the gates of hell wouldn’t be able to stand against us (the church) when we took this mission seriously. How’s your church doing?

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Please Enter the Discussion below. Where do you see your church in this progression? How have you experienced the good and the bad before? What words of encouragement do you have for others?

I’ll be offering some closing thoughts on Ephesians tomorrow, a few more thoughts that couldn’t generally fit into blog posts due to length requirements. This one was already really long, so I’ll have a bit more tomorrow along with a few thoughts from other passages.

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Justin Hiebert

Leadership Catalyst - Entrepreneur - Coach at JSHiebert Leadership Coaching
I am a Business and Life Coach in both non-profit and for profit settings. I coach leaders, executives, and pastors in areas of vision, clarity, and values. In relationship coaching I focus on healthy and sustainable relationships, and in leadership development roles I catalyze change for individuals and groups to thrive. I also consult churches and organizations on how to train new leaders and create a healthy culture. In addition to that, I am an Anabaptist pastor in the Denver metro area. I specialize on topics that include: missional theology, discipleship, culture and the church in today’s society. I am married to my wonderful wife Elise and we have three kids. I grew up and now work in the United States Mennonite Brethren Church (USMB) and love the people and history of the Mennonite Brethren faith. I am a graduate of Tabor College with a dual degree in Youth Ministry and Christian Leadership, a graduate of Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary with a Masters of Divinity, and a Doctoral Student and Bethel Seminary. I also teach college classes in areas of Bible, Communication, and Business.

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    • I actually spoke dressed like that yesterday. Had to tell them not to be jealous that I made it look so good.

      • wow… brave man… Kudos, dude, for breaking that wall of “proper” pastor attire. 🙂

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