Armed? Absolutely…

Being a firearms enthusiast I participate in a number of online forums dedicated to some aspect of the shooting world. One them is a forum specifically related to the world of “concealed carry” and being prepared to defend oneself and others if the need were to arise.

One of the most common topics of discussion is almost always centered around what we personally choose to arm ourselves with. The dialogue and debate (sometimes friendly, sometimes less so) focuses on particular styles of firearm (revolver or autoloader), evaluation of specific models, cartridge suitability, and ammo selection.

It is often noted that one size does not fit all contexts. Different guns and different loads are carried based on the individual needs of the day usually based on anticipated activities, location, and clothing to be worn. The only constant is too be armed and prepared as often as possible.

This line of thinking was brought into a different focus this morning as I began reading and meditating on the next text I will be preaching in 1st Peter (4:1-6). A key phrase, if not THE key phrase, is found in verse 1 when Peter (referring to the life and suffering of Jesus) states, “…arm yourselves also with the same purpose…”

“Arm yourselves”, what an interesting word choice! To be armed assumes several things. First, it anticipates the possibility of some kind of significant conflict. Secondly, it assumes that the person so armed will have some level of involvement in the conflict. Thirdly, though certainly not last, the person who arms themselves must be properly armed for the conflict.

In the immediately preceding context Peter has made it clear that conflict is inevitable for believers (suffering unjustly for living out their faith) and has made it equally clear that such conflict is to be faced courageously and without fear. He then proceeds to instruct his readers on how to properly arm themselves for the conflict.

In the spiritual realm in which the conflict ensues, there is no need to discuss ballistics or manufacturers and models. We only need to arm ourselves with one weapon. That is, the purpose of Jesus. A “purpose”, an attitude, a direction, a drive, a world-view, a goal, a mission…however you want to label it…is what our armament is to be, but not just any purpose. It has to be ONE purpose and one purpose ONLY. Jesus’ purpose is our weapon and His purpose is redemption.

One of the horrible parts of me that is being revealed constantly to me in the 9 months that I having been working at Walmart is how seldom I am properly armed. Too often I carry an arsenal loaded with self-vindication, retribution, and self-preservation. When faced with snarky, presumptuous, arrogant, and entitled customers I too often meet arrogance with arrogance. My focus and concern is not on the redemptive purposes of Christ nor representing Him in a winsome way. Rather, I seem to be more focused on how to put them in their place in such a way as to not violate company policy.

Peter reminds me that my response must be exclusively redemptive. His rhetorical question in 3:13, “Who is there to harm you?” needs to be answered with resounding conviction in my heart and my heart needs to be transformed so as to see beyond what is personally offensive in those I interact with and only see souls in need of Christ. I must not have concern for anything other than representing Christ to those who need nothing but Christ.

Snarky will never be redemptive…ever.

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