“You have to know the rules to break the rules” a friend once told me. A proponent of being disciplined and practiced in order to lead people into social advocacy and non-violent protest, he was a charismatic and unique individual with an aura of hope around him. And, yes, I agreed with him, in part, but I always felt that, in his quest to show quiet restraint and strength without overt fortitude in the face of those who opposed him, while noble and admirable in so many ways, kept him from achieving true success. And, I don’t mean success in life, in general – I mean, success more in line with knowing himself and his fortitude in the face of the enemy. And, I don’t mean that quiet restraint and strength born of learning the rules and applying them is at all a bad thing; I just mean that I always thought that he should show off this anchor he had inside – this fortress of discipline, faith, and self-awareness. What good are all these qualities if we don’t use them, visibly, as God wants us to, in faith and in daily life?
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s scheme. (NIV)
And, if we take the meaning more modern day, it means:
10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.
So what DOES it mean to “live strong”? To live strong in God, in life, or in any way that we want to interpret it? Previously I said, too, that this friend of mine was a born leader in terms of initiating and successfully implementing non-violent protests and advocacy for those without a voice. And, this IS strength, isn’t it? Particularly in these days of violent protests and volatility when the stresses of daily life and the social, professional, or emotional injustices that plague all of us on occasion rear their ugly heads. This ability to negotiate or to bring people together to a resolution is strength. Strength is also simply recognizing our abilities and knowing when to use them.
In my book, I say that we can’t allow people to coerce us into doing something that we do not want to do. Instead, we should use our strength and our sense of self and faith to make sure that what we do is productive and helpful to others, to God, and to our own families and communities. Also in my book, I use the apostle, Paul, as an example of how to live and why we need to tap into this strength – this Armor of God. The enemy will attack us when we aren’t expecting it through self-doubt, fear, and unwanted change, to name a few avenues. Other times, we can see it coming in the way of violence, crime, and unbearable injustices as is the case, very recently, with the issues in Baltimore.
I say this distinctly in my book, and I firmly believe it: We often allow others, sometimes friends – sometimes strangers, to coerce us into doing things that are against our better judgment. This, too, can be an attack of sorts. If we aren’t tapped into our strength, we won’t know how to offset the coercion. On a similar note and to my point earlier that my friend needed to talk more about his fortitude and his ability to make things happen, wearing the Armor of God and living in the way that God’s protection provides us, will offset the challenge in some cases. No one wants to mess with someone who wears and lives the Armor of God – who touts his or her faith and truly believes it – or who finds discipline within and is not afraid to tap into it now and then.
Take today to talk about your faith, friends. Take this week to polish up your Armor of God. And take this month to put behind you the anger and fear that the enemy creates in order to live strong with other people in a productive and faithful world.