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Communion (1995 Series)

Under the Armor

Scheduled for June 29

My wife has had occasion to visit the convention of ACSI - the Association of Christian Schools International.  You can see all kinds of items for sale there, as they always have an exhibit hall where those who want to sell to Christian schools.  You can see anything from textbooks to travel arrangements.

One of the hokier items for sale some years ago was “the full armor of God.”  It looked exactly identical to the “Knight’s Armor” sold at the local toy stores -- except for the packaging and the price tag.  It was designed for a child of about five years of age, and consisted of all the pieces of armor given in Paul’s famous illustration, in Ephesians 6:13-17.

Take a look at that armor.  Armor is something people wore to protect themselves, and this armor was designed to be visible to people.  So it is with the armor that Paul described -- truth, righteousness, the Gospel of peace, faith, salvation and the word of God.  All these are things which are on display in our daily lives (or should be).  So we may consider that this armor was also meant to be displayed.

You may not know it, however, but the armor was not worn over the bare skin.  A linen undergarment -- silk, if you were able to afford it -- was always worn.  It was to be tightly woven;  the tighter the weave, the better the garment.  The reason for this was simple:  armor is not complete protection.  Armor has joints in it.  In combat, the soldier would be subjected to a storm of arrows.  There was some chance that, in the action of combat, gaps would open in the armor and an arrow would penetrate.

What difference would an undershirt make?   Just this:  a silk undershirt in particular would wrap around the arrowhead as it went in -- making it easy to pull it out without having to cut the arrowhead out.  The result was a wound which normally would heal cleanly.  Without that shirt, the arrowhead would have to be cut out, making the wound much larger -- and much filthier, for the cutting would be done with an ordinary knife or short sword.  The silk shirt was not meant to be seen, but without it an ordinary wound would result in gangrene -- always fatal in those days.  True, the wound would be painful in any case -- but with the silk shirt, you probably lived to tell about it.

 

In some ways the taking of Communion is our silk undershirt.  Unless our friends happen to come to worship with us, they don’t see us taking the Lord’s Supper.  The time of self examination serves the same purpose as the silk.  We cannot say to our Lord, “Oh, I haven’t sinned this week, I don’t need to examine myself.”  We must confess and repent to truly be one with him.  And that, like the silk, keeps a small wound just that -- small.  If we swiftly confess and repent, the wound is still painful, but the sin does not grow.  Our Lord plucks Satan’s arrow out from our souls, and the wound is small and quickly heals with the attention of the Master Physician.

Come then, make your armor complete.  Examine yourself, repent and confess -- and be whole again.

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