Just reading Seriously Funny 2 by Jeff Lucas & Adrian Plass and Jeff made the comment that using words to describe God is like throwing snowballs at the moon. I like the analogy, words are so limiting. It also made me think that arguing about the evidence for or against the existence of God is probably similar. That said, here’s another snowball.
Adrian later made the comment about needing to wear the belt of truth so that our trousers don’t fall down, and that made me wonder about expanding the whole armour of God picture in a similar fashion. I seem to spend most of my life feeling like an out of place idiot, ill-at-ease and very worried that my spiritual pants may drop at any minute if I’m not careful. I really need that belt, but the irony is that wearing that belt often leads to you doing or saying something which is the equivalent of dropping your pants in public. Genuine truth often makes you stand out in a crowd, leaving you looking odd because you won’t play the conformity games. It seems that we need a certain level of spin to help us all get along. I recall once talking to someone about an idea for a book which became 31 Weird Places to Read a Bible. I mentioned that the first one could be on the toilet as lots of people read their Bibles there. The person I was speaking to said that a lot of Christians don’t want to talk about that. But that’s my problem – I do. I’ve never been very good at the spin of small talk, I’m afraid. I find it increasingly hard work to be, as they used to say, abroad. Out and about. Speaking the speak. Spinning the spin.
So I thought about the other very necessary (if not so spiritual) uses for the armour and came up with these. The shoes of peace to avoid putting your foot in it, or rather, so that when you put your foot in another one of those unpleasant brown mounds that litter the pavements of life, at least your socks won’t get sludged. Disappointing that there are no socks included in the armour really. The stripey pair of long-suffering. Or the odd socks of conflict. There could of course be the parable of the lost sock, one we could all relate to.
The helmet of salvation could be worn to keep your head dry as spiritual global warming can mean that life is invariably damp, grim and drizzly. Also helps to keep your hair tidy in the cold blustery winds of life. And there’s always the danger of being crapped on by seagulls. Paul himself made reference to being spattered in this way when he referred to Christians as under-rowers in the slave ship of life. Under-rowers sat on the lowest level, beneath all the other rowing slaves who were never allowed bathroom breaks and just shat where they sat. Unpleasant but true. And I’m sure there are a few folks out there who feel dropped on by those above them.
The breastplate of righteousness is vital to protect your tie/sweatshirt/t-shirt/smock/laderhosen/posh frock/dungarees/dog collar against the stains from spilt tea (in churchy green cups) and the fall out from toast and cake crumbs which always get into those important little places. Self-cleaning breastplates would be ideal. The shield of faith is vital for avoiding getting hit by the snowballs that others throw in the name of religion/correction/constructive criticism/intelligence/post-modernity/modernity/pre-modernity/high opinion/low opinion/I’m-right-ism etc.
And then there’s the sword of the spirit. Or light sabre if you prefer. Or uzi or AK47. The further you press the analogy the more difficult and embarrassing it becomes. Just not very downright spiritual really, using the analogy of an offensive weapon, a killing machine, for the word of God. But then Paul was never politically correct. Didn’t worry about health and safety, and probably was absolutely rubbish at small talk and spin. He called a spade a spade. And a sword a sword. The whole idea that a Roman soldier could be a visual aid for the kingdom of peace seems daft when you think about it. Which brings us back to dropping your pants in public. Paul was perhaps more shocking and counter-cultural than we at first realise. Often dropping his pants so that others would never forget the message that cut through the spin. Not unlike Jeff Lucas and Adrian Plass.