Halloween just passed and I was recalling all the different costumes I wore growing up. I was Woody from Toy Story, a Ninja, a Gangster Vampire (don’t ask). One of my favorites, however, was dressing up in the whole armor of God. I remember that costume in all its glory. Everything was made of plastic, but when I had every piece on I felt invincible. It wasn’t just having the armor that made the costume amazing though; it was getting to wear it alongside both of my brothers who wore it as well. With the full armor at the ready, the three of us brothers together, and our dad who watched over us, we were ready to take the streets Halloween night and nothing could stop us.
We are often reminded by many pastors and teachers to put on the whole armor of God because of the spiritual war being fought around us. However, I feel like one of the most important factors is being left out in these messages… War is not fought alone. We are reminded to wake up every day and put on the proverbial armor of God, but very little is said about surrounding yourself with others who also are wearing their armor.
Historically, the Spartans were considered some of the most efficient warriors. However, it wasn’t their individual strength that made them so great. They fought as one unit, valuing the protection of the person next to them over their own life. They would band together and not split up at all costs. Their strong ties to community helped them survive the most impossible odds.
I believe Paul addresses this very concept when he encourages the Ephesians in his letter. He follows the challenge to put on the whole armor of God with this:
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” Ephesians 6:18
“Praying for all the Lord’s people…” We are fighting a spiritual battle, but we cannot do it on our own. We need to pray for others and need to be prayed for by others. This is only made possible when we allow others to get close enough to hear our struggles and shoulder our burdens with us. At Central Christian Church, this very thing happens every day in Life Groups. From adults, to students, and even children, Life Groups are encouraging people to be as concerned with others’ spiritual strength and growth as they are with their own.
When my wife and I moved away from family and our home church to go to college in the state of Missouri (which I am sure is pronounced misery), we would have been open to so many spiritual attacks if it wasn’t for the strength and support we found in the Life Group we got plugged into there. They encouraged us, prayed for us, and poured wisdom into us when we were about to make decisions that would have hurt us in the long run. We grew more than we could ever imagine when we were surrounded by others who cared as much for our growth as they did for their own
If you are in a Life Group then you have an important and amazing opportunity to pray for and shoulder the burdens of those around you. You have the opportunity to help them grow instead of lose the battles they face. If you are not in a Life Group or have not fully owned the opportunity to support those in your current group, I would challenge you to fully own the vision and invest in those around you.
When we put on the full armor of God, surround ourselves with other believers, and remember that our Heavenly Father is watching over us, we can take the streets of this world with mission Christ has given us and nothing can stop us.