Skip to content

Helmet On?

March 11, 2016

Cara Dost is a part of our church. She’s graduating from William and Mary in Virginia this spring and starts seminary this fall. It was our honor to welcome her as our Wonderful Wednesday speaker this week.

We’re about the business of Ephesians 6 and The Full Armor of God in this series. Cara’s task was dealing with “The Helmet of Salvation” and I think you’ll appreciate what she had to say (emphases are mine)—

Why do we need the helmet of salvation or any of the other stuff if we’re already saved? To “withstand on that evil day,” of course. Verse 13 says it all; we have to give this life thing all we’ve got, in spite of the evil in this world. In the previous chapter, Paul says, “Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people, but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil.”

The William & Mary Religious Studies department endorses only one biblical translation for all classes studying the Hebrew Bible or New Testament: The Fully Revised Fourth Edition of The New Oxford Annotated Bible (with Apocrypha), NRSV. I somehow managed to almost make it to graduation without buying this much beloved translation, but I finally broke down and bought it this spring because I just wouldn’t have felt like a true Religious Studies major without it.

And so, I wanted to put it to good use. Here is the footnote for the phrase “that evil day”: “All Christian existence is situated within an ongoing spiritual conflict.” Now, Paul could be speaking about a literal really, really evil day in the future that we need to be preparing ourselves for—or, according to The New Oxford Annotated Bible (with Apocrypha), “that evil day” is really many evil days.

As Paul says in 5:16, “the days are evil.” And I think that kind of constant, ongoing evil is a better motivator than one massively evil day far off in the distant future. After all, think about climate change. One of the reasons we are so bad at preparing ourselves for an uncertain ecological future and figuring out ways to save our planet before it’s too late is that, as a species, we’re really bad at taking the future into consideration. We respond best to crises that are happening right here, right now.

Most of Florida will be underwater by 2100? Don’t worry—we still have time. You might get in an accident while riding your bicycle? It’s probably fine to bike without your helmet just one more time. Or, in my case, my car’s breaks squeak for two months before I decide to have them checked—because they’ll be fine for just one more trip to the store. It would be way too easy to put off doomsday preparations if that’s what Paul was telling us to do.

I mean, think about it: Paul is writing this letter in the mid-1st c. CE. Nearly 2,000 years have passed since then, and as far as we can tell, that “evil day” hasn’t come yet. And different branches of Christianity have very different ways of relating to the idea of the millennium. Some say that Christ will literally return to Earth and reign for 1,000 years. Others argue that the millennium has already begun, and we’re living in it, helping to make the world better a little bit at a time. Not to discount either of those views, but I do believe that a present-focused mindset is more productive and helpful in realizing the Kingdom of God in this world.

Saying that we are living in evil days rather than awaiting one particularly evil day means that we play a more active role in improving our world.

We can put on the full armor of God and jump right into the fray rather than spend our days training for the final battle. We can get our hands dirty alongside God and passionately spread the love of Christ in our deeds and in our words.

All I can add is Amen. Thank you, Cara!

Advertisements

From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: