I have some friends who, when they go to church, carry their concealed firearm. One of them is with the local sheriff’s department. The other is a pastor in another town.
I looked up where the term “arms” as a reference to weaponry comes from:
“Arms, meaning those things used during fighting, comes from the Latin arma, which had largely the same meaning and came from the root ar- meaning ‘to fit together’. Since the 14th century arms has referred to weapons. When new weapons came along that used gunpowder, they were referred to as fire-arms.” (a quote from Doug Rice on https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-etymology-of-the-word-firearm)
Huh. I just kinda thought it looked like fire coming out of your arm…? Shows what I know.
Of course, with all the news about shootings in schools, churches, and other public places, it’s almost reminiscent of the Wild West, which some use to defend their case in our current culture.
No matter where you stand in this very volatile issue, the necessary thing is obvious: we need protecting. There are those out there who are bent on destruction.
Nehemiah also got a whiff of this while his crew was rebuilding the wall in Jerusalem back in the Old Testament. In the beginning, there were taunts, but that was all. As things got more serious and the wall was becoming a reality, the taunts gave way to threats, and our hero had to revise his strategy:
During this time, none of us—not I, nor my relatives, nor my servants, nor the guards who were with me—ever took off our clothes. We carried our weapons with us at all times, even when we went for water…
In the lifetime of Nehemiah, the Jews had some obvious enemies, (things haven’t changed all that much with the passage of time, but that’s a different topic.) Especially now that they were rebuilding the ruins of their culture, those enemies began to focus God’s people in their crosshairs.
Which is also what is happening with us, in a very real spiritual sense. If I choose to sit quietly in spiritual exile, Satan’s not too concerned. But once I put my hand on a Godly brick to rebuild the ruined places in my life, the threats start:
Yeah, you tried that before. How well did that plan work, huh?
The next brick brings on a little more. Maybe it’s showing up to church to a few sneers or rolled eyes:
Right, don’t you remember—they’re all hypocrites!
Undaunted, I dip into the mortar, and a few of the enemy’s reinforcements show up: old feelings or memories, maybe some emotional ballast from the past. This is where I really need to learn to start using the armor I’ve been given, the belt of truth, the sword of the Spirit, all that.
But get this one—even when I “go to get water”. Even when we’re with the Body of Christ, we do not remove our spiritual armor. Perhaps especially then. It’s easy to be “holy” by myself, sitting on my comfortable couch, drinking my tea and reading my Bible. Me and God, we’re good, right?
But the watering hole, the Body of Christ, that’s a different story. Satan likes to have a hay-day within the church, causing offenses, factions, gossip, even lawlessness and moral ambiguity. The armor is not to fight or defend against each other, but to defend each other (and myself) from the temptations and attacks of our very real and identifiable spiritual enemy.
So, keep your armor on—otherwise we won’t build the wall, we’ll just be throwing bricks at each other (while Satan laughs).
Nehemiah 4:23 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.