By Anthony Casperson
When speaking about RPGs, the idea of leveling up often takes center stage. But almost as important as the new skills and abilities now unlocked is the gear equipped to one’s character. The various equipment slots awaiting armor to be placed on the personal avatar.
Chest armor, leg armor, a helmet, and some form of arm bracers make up the standard load-out. The choice also comes up about ranged weapons or melee weapons. Depending on the game, a shield might come up as well. On occasion, there might be a slot for a belt or footgear. And we can’t forget the various jewelry slots, such as rings or amulets.
The options abound in these games. But the importance of armor is to prepare the character for the type of battle they’re about to face. If you’re about to go to a volcanic area, some fire resistance will be good. Going to the frigid northlands? (Why is it always cold in the north?) Well, you’re going to need some cold resistance.
If the character is about to face some mages, then some kind of magic armor is recommended. Or if the game has a more sci-fi feel, then you’ll need to think about how much energy shield you can get. And if physical weapons are all you’re worried about, simple ablative armor is all that’s necessary. We suit up our characters for the type of situation they’re about to go into.
And why do we gear up like this? We want our character to still be standing at the end of the encounter. While there are runthroughs of games where a person decides to make it harder on themselves by not equipping anything on their character, the point of the armor is to keep them alive in every situation they encounter.
Armor helps keep us standing throughout the difficulties around us.
The closest thing to the equipment screen that we see in the bible is found in Ephesians 6, the armor of God. And we see this same reasoning for wearing armor in verse 11. Clothe yourselves with the full armor of God, so that you are able to stand firmly against the methodologies of the slanderer. Or as most translations put it, “that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”
This armor is suited for the spiritual battles that we face every day, even when our physical being exists in peace. Our enemies aren’t the people around us, even those who oppose the ways of God. The armor isn’t crafted to counteract or attack them. It’s smithed for attacks from sin and death. It’s meant to put an end to the lies of Satan, the enemy, and oppose him. To stand alive when destruction has had its way with everything around us.
Far too often, we forget that the people around us who live blind to the truth, are not our enemies. They are casualties of this spiritual battle. Those who need the resurrection life of our Savior. The gospel of peace is not just a foot covering. It’s what keeps us pushing forward into enemy territory to bring the life found in the cross.
People often consider the end of the armor of God passage to be verse 17, the sword of the Spirit. A few will even extend it out to the next verse, speaking about prayer as a part of our spiritual equipment. But many miss the continuation of the thought of prayer to extend out to prayers for Paul to have words to speak boldly, revealing the gospel that long stood covered in mystery.
This gospel for which he now stands as an ambassador in chains. Paul lives out in front of us what it means to be decked out in the full armor of God. He’s not hating others. He’s not trying to change their actions, as if external change equals internal metamorphosis. What Paul is doing is letting the gospel be on display.
The truth of God binds the whole armor as a belt. The uprightness bestowed upon him protects his heart. He has kept step with God’s gospel pace. His active reliance on God stands ready to shield him from anything thrown at him. His place as one saved rests securely on his mind. The word of God cuts down the army of lies and breaks the chains of the oppressed. And his reliance on God, shown through prayer for himself and others, gives him the perseverance to stand.
All of this done in a jail cell as he stands falsely accused of wrongdoing. If anyone had reason to fight the people who had gone against God’s ways, it was Paul. They were the reason he was in jail. But here he shows that his fight (and ours) is not against the people, but against the fallenness of the universe, sin and death. And so he stands as a warrior and ambassador, an elder statesman who fights for the truth.
When we think of the spiritual battles going on around us, let’s remember that our armament is not meant to be used on those around us. Wonton destruction is the purview of the enemy, not our God. The reason we clothe ourselves is so that we can stand and help others stand in God’s truth as well. This is what we are equipped to fight.
Let’s suit up in the right armor for this spiritual battle.