The way things are trending in the world of seasonal retail, insurance actuaries may have to start considering our shopping habits when calculating our health insurance premiums. On “Black Friday”, going to the mall might be more like going to the “brawl”, and perhaps the mission to acquire some treasured new acquisition ought to fall under the military term, “Black Ops”. If today’s trends in bargain-induced hand-to-hand combat continue, specially designed “doorbuster body armor” may not be far away, and cleverly designed personal protection could eventually become a regular part of our shopping wardrobe. Discriminating people concerned with things like personal survival might be wearing it regularly like they did during whatever era it was when knighthood was “in flower.”
Either way, the situation prompts a thought or two about the whole idea of armor and brings to mind a time when my image of a “knight in shining armor” got a little tarnished. We were touring the Tower of London a few years ago during a mission project in the U.K. Our group leader was obviously a compassionate woman. When she perceived that the men in the group were beginning to exhibit symptoms of “boring-artifact-paralysis”, she announced that we were about to see the actual battle armor worn by King Henry VIII.
Protracted exposure to ancient tapestries and dark paintings of people dressed in ways that create a rash just from looking at them made the thought of seeing real battle armor downright thrilling. Most of us guys really like looking at stuff like that. Seeing what other guys wear while they’re running around in a state of mass psychopathic frenzy while trying their best to kill one another can be helpful, especially in light of current approaches to the peril involved in bargain hunting.
Mid-level Disappointment ~
Just seeing the display case down the hallway that housed King Henry’s armor was enough to redeem us from tapestry purgatory. “Wow,” I thought. “This is going to be great—real armor! This wasn’t some cheap replica, this was what they actually wore into battle.” I weaved my way to the front of the group to get a good look and had to do a double-take. What a disappointment. I never pictured knights in shining armor as being… well… short and fat. Either the king was a portly fellow or he had his armor designed to accommodate holding a snack or two—like maybe a 20-pound turkey and some trimmings.
Personal armor does, of course, need to fit the person wearing it. It’s the first of two primary criteria for effective personal armor. The second is that it has to be strong enough to repel whatever weapon the enemy can throw against it. Henry’s armor was top-of-the-line quality for his day and still in pretty good shape. Aside from some range-of-motion hindrances, with a little WD-40 and some sprucing up, it might even survive an engagement with a Black Friday “doorbuster” special on giant screen TVs in modern America.
One of the problems with physical armor is that it has no built-in capacity to make adjustments to the advancements in an enemy’s weaponry. If a weapon is devised that can penetrate it, then the armor is functionally worthless. A display case is a suitable place for Henry’s armor, because it wouldn’t be worth much in today’s conflicts—well, with the possible exception of a Best Buy Thanksgiving super-sale.
Design Criteria ~
The design of armor is always dictated by the enemy’s capacity to inflict harm. Men don’t devise armor to enhance their lounging comfort. They design it because human beings are remarkably vulnerable and because we have enemies remarkably adept at devising ways to take advantage of that vulnerability. Human bodies without protection are fragile, thus the presence and continual evolution of physical armor. The problem is that our susceptibility is not restricted to physical attacks alone.
Physical wars have plagued humanity since the beginning, but there is a different kind of warfare that rages continually, laden with implications that are far more significant. The battles we engage in with that conflict are not always so readily apparent, and the strategies are not so easy to recognize or defend against. Physical attacks are generally straightforward and uncomplicated. If someone knocks us down and beats us in the head, we don’t need to post pictures on Facebook and ask our friends in order to figure out whether we’ve have been assaulted. Spiritual attacks can be subtle, seductive, and feel more like romance than warfare. They are often not so easy to recognize or assess, and effective armor to protect against them cannot be obtained through human effort alone.
Though spiritual attacks are different, they are no less real. The Apostle Paul warned that conflicts in this arena are not conducted, “after the flesh” and that the weapons are not physical in nature (II Cor. 10:3-5). Further, the damage sought by the enemy in this warfare targets our eternal wellbeing, and losses on this field of battle are far more devastating than the loss of physical life. That calls for an entirely different kind of protection.
Different Warfare, Different Armor ~
Paul admonishes us to “put on the whole armor of God”, and then proceeds to describe what those pieces are (Eph. 6:10-18). Thinking about God’s armor and envisioning the outfit King Henry wore into battle provokes a thought or two.
- Unlike the suit of armor made for Henry the 8th, God’s armor fits every user perfectly.
- Unlike Henry’s ponderous metal outfit, we won’t need to shed God’s armor because we get tired of carrying it around.
- Unlike Henry’s armor, God’s armor will never be outdated and never need to be redesigned.
- Unlike Henry’s armor, God’s armor has no vulnerable cracks in it.
- Unlike Henry’s foes, our enemy will never have a device more powerful than God’s protections.
- But just like Henry’s armor, God’s armor is very personal in nature and worthless if not applied, and like him, we are hopelessly vulnerable in battle without it.
And one final benefit—nobody will ever be able to look at our personal version of God’s armor and be tempted to make snide remarks about our physique.
© 2017 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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