Monday, January 10, 2022
It’s time for NFL football playoffs, all leading up to the Super Bowl. Teams have prepared all year for these games, ready to put on all of their equipment and take a stand against an opponent that is seeking to knock them down and run over them. But there is something interesting I have noticed about all of the protective equipment that they wear: with the exception of some specialized pads to protect specific injuries, they all wear the same things – helmets, shoulder pads, hip pads, and thigh pads. Yet in any given game, with all of the same equipment, one team beats the other. It must not be the equipment that wins games.
Inside all that equipment is a person, and it is the strength, skill and preparation of the player that makes the difference in the game. The equipment is to protect him, not equip him. Having the equipment on makes the player less vulnerable to injury, so the fear factor is diminished, giving the player the opportunity to push himself to his physical limits. But all of the energy and execution are the responsibility of the player and not the equipment.
As Christians we are also in a battle against an opponent, but this is no game. It is a war. The opponent will not extend a hand and help us up after knocking us down. They are coached to maim and destroy. They will not meet us at the 50-yard line to shake hands and kneel in prayer when it is over. They are an intimidating team. But before we run and hide and forfeit out of fear, let’s remember that we have some equipment to protect us.
Ephesians 6:10-11 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”
Now, let’s hear a motivational speech from our Coach.
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. You are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” (From 1 John, John’s Gospel, and Luke)
We have two huge advantages over the opponent: Our Coach has already beaten their coach, and our Coach has the ability to actually live inside our equipment with us. When the opponent puts on their equipment they simply take orders from their coach. But when we put on God’s armor, God gets in it with us, and since he has already beaten the enemy once, we are guaranteed of victory again.
The point of all of this is to get our focus on the right thing – our strength is not in the armor, but in the power of God abiding in us. Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. The armor protects us from injury, but it is Jesus Christ who equips us from within to push ourselves to our physical and spiritual limits. It is His power in us that wins the game. Our preparation for battle starts before we put any armor on – it starts in our hearts where Jesus Christ the Coach comes to live and reign. Once we are strong in Him, then we can put on the armor and fight the war.