My seventh-grade son has a unique set of friends. A few “kind of” believe in a generic god out there, a few flat out don’t believe in God at all, a few aren’t sure what they believe, and then there’s my son. He’s grown up in the church, attended parochial schools until 5th grade, goes regularly to Sunday School, midweek (church) school, and confirmation class, and hears Bible stories and devotions at home as well. And thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit, he believes those biblical accounts. He has faith in Jesus and isn’t afraid to say so, even when all his friends are arguing against him. And argue they do. Religion is a regular topic of discussion at their lunch table. Yet despite the wide variety of views among them, they have a close bond and manage to stay friends even after a lively discussion. And to be honest, I couldn’t be happier that he’s fighting in school, because it’s already preparing him for life as an adult.
Make no mistake, we Christians are in the midst of a fierce battle. Satan has declared war on those who believe in Jesus. He wants nothing more than to snatch our faith from us, discredit our witness to the world, and keep others from hearing the Good News of the Gospel. And sadly, much of society is falling for his lies. Find a blog about political or societal issues, and you’ll see this played out vividly in the comment section. (Hint: any Matt Walsh article at all.) Whether it’s abortion, LGBTQ issues, political candidates, or immigration policies, you’ll find heated (and often ignorant) accusations hurled on both sides. Society loves to pull the all-powerful “intolerance card” on anyone who disagrees. I’m not even a political blogger, but a couple of my articles have been widely circulated, and the comments I’ve received from some people are just ridiculous. I’ve been accused of sipping tea in my mansion with a white picket fence while blithely ignoring the plight of everyone who isn’t like me. I’ve been attacked for my race, my education level, my economic status, and my religion—all things, by the way, that our society claims to be blind to. Apparently that doesn’t work if you’re a Christian. Then, by golly, your views are irrelevant and antiquated. Which is why we need to realize how very dangerous this culture is for our children, and then equip them appropriately.
Let’s say your child asked to take up boxing. Would you allow him or her to compete without proper protection—boxing gloves, a mouth guard, head protection, etc? Most certainly not. Then neither should we allow our children to enter the spiritual battle without being properly armed. Thankfully, it isn’t up to us to figure out how to arm ourselves. God has already taken care of that problem for us. Read Ephesians 6:10-18, the “armor of God” section, and just look at the incredible defense He’s given to us: we have the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, our feet fitted with the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation. That’s a pretty thorough defense, covering us from head to toe. We know that we have God’s absolute truth on our side, and He protects us through His own righteousness. Whatever flaming darts the enemy may hurl at us, we can extinguish them with the shield of faith, because we know what we wear on our heads—a crown of salvation that Jesus has already won for us. But there’s still one more item on the list.
The items above comprise the defensive armor we possess through faith in Christ, but there’s one last thing we can’t neglect; the one offensive weapon in the list—the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17b). This is critical, because it tells us how to “fight.”
We aren’t to rely on our own wisdom or logic or cleverness. We aren’t to turn to popular opinion or what’s trending at the moment. We are to use God’s Word alone. And what does that mean? We need to know the Scriptures. And we need to make sure our children know them too. We can’t properly fight without really knowing what the Bible says. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve seen the comment, “My Jesus would never…” What follows is usually a feel-good sort of sentiment; the “nice-guy Jesus” defense, leading people to believe that Jesus doesn’t really care what you believe or how you live your life- He won’t condemn you or judge you, because He loves everyone. This is tricky, because it’s a mixture of truth and a lie. So rather than trying to make a clever comeback, point to the Bible and let Jesus speak for Himself. “Actually, Jesus will judge everyone on the Last Day, as He says in Matthew 25 when He’s separating the sheep and the goats. Those who believe in Him will go to heaven, and those who do not believe in Him will go to hell. That’s why it’s so important to me that others know about Jesus—so they have the chance to believe in Him and go to heaven one day.”
Ladies and gentlemen, we possess an incredible gift. We in America still have freedom of worship as well as access to Bibles, devotionals, and other religious materials in print. Some countries do not have these freedoms. Let’s not squander the opportunity to study the Bible and worship with other believers on a regular basis. Let’s immerse our children in the Scriptures as well. Pose questions and scenarios for them so they can practice defending their faith. Why don’t we believe in evolution? Why do we believe that the only way to heaven is Jesus? What does God say about homosexuality? Use current events and issues as a springboard for discussion in your own home. Be honest and open in answering any questions your children have. If you don’t know the answer, consult your pastor or a trusted Christian friend. Your kids need to know they can talk to you about religion, even if they have doubts themselves. And as Paul sums up his section about the armor of God, be sure to pray at all times. Prayer isn’t part of the “armor,” per se, but it is a valuable tool nonetheless. Pray that you stand firm in your faith. Pray that your children stand firm in theirs. Pray that God would grant wisdom when called upon to defend the faith. And He will. He has promised to hear and answer the prayers of His children.
Someday, in the not-too-distant future, our kids will be the ones blogging and sparring about hot button topics on social media. Do what you can to equip them for the future, knowing that God will provide the necessary armor. After all, it’s a battlefield out there.
Photo is Fighting by Frederic C81