Noelle Kirchner, M.Div., is a Presbyterian minister and mother of two boys. As they wrestle on the floor, she enjoys wrestling with her manuscripts. She writes for Huff Post Parents, the TODAY Show Parenting Team, and has been a repeat guest author at in(courage). You can find her on her blog, where she writes about faith and parenting, and on Twitter and Facebook.
Devotion 2 in the Summer Series "A Prayer for Armor"
Last week we began our summer devotional series on Ephesians 6:14-18. This week, we are focusing on the first piece of armor mentioned in the prayer. Recall these words of our prayer, which I reprint in bold, and remember that the words in italics are from Ephesians:
We come before you asking for your edification. There is a lot we face, there are things we hide, and there is a space that only you can fill. Please hear us as we pray with a mother's heart.
Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist...
May we know your truth and share it with our children. Give us a hunger for Christ so that we can reap his blessings. Help us to not just see Christ in a picture on our wall or a cross around our neck, but may he be written on our heart.
Truth is a relative term in our culture today. Political correctness dictates the terms of our social interactions, foundations that were once firm are being reexamined, and people can find themselves more confused and distraught as a result. A certain amount of questioning is normal and healthy, but when it drives believers to cling to polarities, it is not helpful.
One polarity is legalism. Scripture and a walk of faith is reduced to a checklist for adherence. The world is divided into black and white terms. Although seeing the world this way can simplify things, it doesn't respect the wrestling that is normal to any relationship - including one of faith. Think about Jacob and Job wrestling with God in the Old Testament, both literally and figuratively respectively. For a relationship with Christ to be genuine, the give and take of prayer needs to be real, not prescribed.
Another polarity is complete relativity. Just as the world isn't black and white, it is not relative either. We as Christians have been given scripture and the example of God in Christ to look to for instruction. The psalmist describes the role that God's word should have in our lives by saying, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psalm 119:105, KJV). Scripture is our map as travelers on life's road, and the Holy Spirit can be counted on for illumined directions.
We know that scripture is important. Sometimes we have different opinions on its interpretation as Christians, but we are all under its authority. Yet some well meaning Christians still wonder, "If Christ's forgiveness is promised, why do I need to follow scripture? Why go to the trouble of obedience if I know that I can be wiped clean through Christ if my penitence is real?" This is not just a question that your kids may ask, for adults wonder it too.
The answer lies in the value of truth. Yes, God will forgive us, but we will still have to face the consequences of our actions. If we steal, we may be spiritually wiped clean, but God does not erase the fact that we did it or the societal implications therein. The reality is that God's law is a gift. It was first given to the Israelites in the Old Testament to bless them, and it was so sacred that they built a special temple for it. Christ expounded upon that law in the New Testament with the same trajectory - to bless us.
It may be a trite saying, but the truth really can set us free. Being a Christian does not promise us a perfect life, but it promises us a better one. The truth can set us free from the wages of sin and death. The truth embedded in scripture, from its law to theological teachings, will deliver us from avoidable pitfalls and heartaches. It is the opposite of the lies and trappings of our culture, lies that the world would have us believe now and wanted believers to embrace back then. Clinging to God's truth sets us apart and liberates us to live on God's terms, which is the way that we were designed to thrive.
So let us seek to impart that truth to our children. When the world delivers hopelessness, we have a hope that springs eternal. When the world pressures us to choose a dangerous path, we have a light for the high road. When the world tells us that we are worthless, we have a Savior who says otherwise. Don't let our relative culture rob you from the blessings of God in scripture. Fall in love with it all over again, and teach it to your children.
These words from the Psalmist promise great reward, and I pray that the Holy Spirit moves in your heart as you read them today:
"The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.
The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous.
They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.
By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward."
- Psalm 19:7-11, NRSV
To pray, you are invited back to the full prayer from last week by clicking here: A Prayer for Armor.