“The church’s warfare involves purposefully growing into communities that become more faithful corporate performances of Jesus on earth…this is good news for the world.”
-Tim Gombis, The Drama of Ephesians
Text: Ephesians 6:12-18
Devotional: When reading Paul’s words in Ephesians, particularly his mentioning of the “cosmic powers” in 6:12, I am often reminded of the 1999 film, The Matrix. In the movie, a futuristic world is dictated by machines; they use humans for fuel while deceiving them using the “matrix,” a false world designed to manipulate humans and control their understanding of reality. There is a small faction of people who have discovered this truth, however, and are working to overthrow the machines together.
Paul’s picture of the “cosmic powers”–literally the “cosmos-grabbers” (kosmokratoras) in Greek according to scholar Bruce Longanecker–is not dissimilar from the machines in The Matrix. Paul sees that, while it may appear that reality is dictated by people, there are actually greater spiritual forces, like Sin and Death, that have grasped people and the world, enslaving them and bringing about darkness rather than shalom, or harmony. It is the Christian’s job, then, to become aware of these dark powers, and align ourselves instead with different priorities of flourishing and life in Christ.
The church is a place that runs counter to the dominant powers of Sin and Death in the world, which is at once broken and being healed. The “armor” that Paul describes in 6:13-18 reminds us how we do this. We embody holistic truth (lived and spoken) to defeat deception and hypocrisy; we practice righteousness and justice to defeat oppression and injustice; we live with peace to defeat divisive tribalism; we emphasize faith in Christ’s redemption and restoration to defeat cynicism and despair; we have confidence in salvation in Christ to defeat the power of hopelessness; we learn the wisdom and insight of scripture and practice prayer to defeat the abusive powers of our world. The job of the church is to embody the redeeming and restoring power of Christ in a world where deceptive powers of Sin and Death are still evident. We inhabit every space differently, living in the world and yet radically other than the world. -CL
Prayer: Lord, open my eyes to the places where I might embody your truth and peace. Take me to places where your Spirit can bring healing, and draw me near to your presence so that I might become a vehicle of your redeeming and restoring power.