April 5, 2020

Protected Input (The Armor, part 14)

In my youth, I had a very brief romance with motorcycles. Oh, I still love to look at sick choppers and big bad hogs, but my Honda Trail 70 and I had a falling out which permanently diminished my desire to ever again ride a bike. One of the things I really love about biker culture is the seemingly endless assortment of helmets available. You can create any aesthetic by simply changing from a simple open-faced helmet to a sci-fi themed full-face modular model. Or perhaps you want a more military look: you can choose from simple kaiser helmets or something that resembles special ops gear. The possibilities are endless!

A helmet’s primary purpose is to protect the brain, which is both the biological control center of the body and home to our minds, or thought processes. However, the helmet can protect more than just the brain; the helmets mentioned above provide various levels of protection for the eyes, ears, and mouth as well.  The eyes and ears are vital to our experience of the world around us.  What we see and hear has a huge effect on what we think.  The mouth is very important with regard to how we affect the world (specifically, people) around us.  The Biblical Helmet of Salvation has much to do with both how we perceive the world, and how the world perceives us.

Image by Steven Iodice from Pixabay 
Let’s turn our focus toward the Roman military helmets which first-century Christians would have been familiar with. Some types leave the ears open, while others cover the ears completely.  The advantage to having your ears covered is enhanced protection of the sides of the skull, but it brings with it a serious disadvantage:  you can’t hear as well.

What about protection for the eyes?  Most versions protect the face only with hinged cheek guards, providing good protection on each side, but leaving the eyes open and vulnerable.  Some helmets covered the entire face, leaving just the eyeholes open, which would provide much greater protection. Only small objects that could fit through those eyeholes would pose a threat to the eyes, but along with that protection comes the hindrance of a restricted field of vision. 

March 30, 2020

Put On Your Thinking Cap - The Helmet of Salvation (The Armor, part 13)

Thus far in our study of the Whole Armor of God, we have established that the Belt of Truth represents salvation by acceptance of Christ as Lord and Savior, the Breastplate of Righteousness protects us from the consequences of sin by engaging in good behavior, the “boots” of preparation get us ready to spread the gospel of peace, and the Shield of Faith adds a layer of protection which keeps us spiritually safe, even when all else fails. In this installment, we will look at the Helmet of Salvation.

At this point, alarm bells might be going off in your head. ..
Wasn’t the Belt of Truth all about salvation?
Is the helmet just a repeat of that?

Keep calm and read on, dear reader, because the Helmet of Salvation plays quite a different role in our spiritual lives than the Belt of Truth. We can understand this better by considering the function of the Roman soldier’s helmet, or galea.

Photo by R. Gino Santa Maria
The galea in its simplest form consisted primarily of a skull cap of iron or brass.  Some versions included cheek flaps made of leather or other perishable material, while others sported hinged cheek plates of iron or brass.  Regardless of the material used, the flaps tied together below the chin, both securing the helmet and adding protection for the cheeks, mouth, and chin.  Some models of the galea had a rear neck guard, while cavalry helmets often featured a full faceplate, with only eyeholes cut out.  All versions of the helmet included an inner liner (probably of wool) which provided vital cushioning for impacts.

But what about the spiritual symbolism? Three times in scripture, a helmet is linked to salvation. 

March 29, 2020

Choose Faith (The Armor, part 12)

I’m not a morning person. Waking up is a process, and my morning routine seems to happen with little or no conscious thought on my behalf. Sit up, put on my oversize fuzzy slippers, answer mother nature’s call, feed the cats, make the coffee. It’s the same every day, and I go through it without even thinking about it.

Or do I?

Even though I may feel (and look) like a mindless zombie first thing in the morning, each step of my routine is the result of a choice. I choose to get out of bed rather than sleeping in. I choose to put on the fuzzy slippers instead of going barefoot. True, going to the bathroom may be the unavoidable result of bodily functions, but I choose to do that before feeding the cats or making coffee. Everything we do is the result of a choice, even for one such as myself who, upon first waking, has more in common with the walking dead than Mr. Rogers.

What is life if not a series of choices?

Choice is an ever-present factor of human life. Nothing that you do happens without your choosing it. You chose your job. You chose what to wear this morning. You chose what to eat for breakfast - or you may have chosen to skip breakfast altogether. You chose to read this article (and I choose to thank you for doing so!). If any of the above decisions were made by someone else on your behalf, then you chose to let them make that decision for you.

As stated in lyrics penned by the late Neil Peart of Rush, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” There is no escaping the presence of choice in your life. It touches everything that you do.