One Is The Lonliest Number
In my research for both of my novels (Centurion: From Glory to Glory and The Viking Chronicles) the weaponry have been most interesting. Nothing much changed from first century Rome to the frozen shores of the Vikings. The Roman military, however, was more proficient.
Vikings shields were round and much smaller, easier to carry and wield. The Roman shield was longer and wider and was best used in concert with other soldiers. The Vikings had their shield wall, that consisted of men standing shoulder to shoulder with shields overlapping. The Romans stood four to six men side by side and six rows deep. Their shields protected their front, back, and sides. A squad of Roman soldiers could hold off a superior force when they used their shields in unison. Arrows would bounce off, and the enemy repelled.
In our spiritual battle for the high call of unity the Apostle Paul said we are in every circumstance to put on the shield of faith. But it isn't a solitary faith that we wield, but one that is used in concert with other believers. We don't have to go it alone. My individual faith is important, but it is the faith community that stands strong against the evil one.
Satan prowls, seeks, and destroys. He throws fiery darts or deception and division. Some of his greatest tools are individualism and isolation. There was a US Army recruiting slogan years ago that read, "An Army of One." But every soldier knows that the isolated soldier on the field of battle can not stand.
The evil one also throws darts of doubt and indecision. Is our faith the only way? Does science prove we are wrong? Is God really irrelevant? this Christmas the American Atheist Association has a billboard campaign in the south. It is a picture of a little girl writing a letter to Santa, "Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is to skip Church. I'm too old to believe in fairy tales." The serpent in the garden started it all by planting the seed of doubt in Eve's mind. Doubt keeps us from praying, doubt keeps us from reading the Bible, doubt keeps us from worship, doubt keeps us from sharing the gospel. Doubt is a powerful weapon in our advisories arsenal.
Satan also masquerades as an angel of light, enticing believers to complacency and distraction. We start to question, does it really matter? God is sovereign what choice do I really have? Does my dollar actually help? I don't really need to be involved. Our complacency leads to distraction as the world worms its way into our lives and places an ever widening wedge between us, God, and other believers.
Faith is our shield because it believes the promises of God are true even when we don't understand how. How does God's love forgive such a wretched person? How does serving change the world? How does loving my enemy win the battle? How does compassion win over hate? How does the resurrection bring life? They are foolishness to an unbelieving world. Yet, in faith we believe, not a blind leap, but one built on those who have gone before us, on the unseen realities all around, and the confidence we have in the resurrected Christ.
Christians are strongest when we lift our shields together, when we fight side by side instead of against one another. When we, in faith, pray, worship, study, and live life together the fiery darts of the evil one are extinguished and fall ineffectual to the ground. Let's do this together, people. That's what I'm talking about. I'm just saying...
Ephesians 6:16 "In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one."