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Greg Brothers is an Adventist pastor in Oregon.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Ten Essentials

You’ve come to a fork in the trail – and you’re pretty sure that you’re supposed to head south . . .

But Fred wanted to take a nap after lunch. So you gave him your one and only copy of the map. And you told him to catch up with you when he could.

So there you are: trying to remember what was on the map.

As for Fred, he’s trying to figure out which way is north – that’s because he has the map, but you still have the compass!

Its situations such as this that made The Mountaineers (an outdoors group based on Seattle) come up with “The Ten Essentials.” That’s their list of ten items that everyone who goes into the outdoors should carry with them at all times – items such as . . . well, if you want to know what’s on their list of Ten Essentials, then click on the title for this particular blog entry.

But if you want to know what’s on Paul’s list of “Essentials,” then read Ephesians 6:13-18. And no, don’t try to get too bogged down in the analogies; as near as I can figure, there’s no particular reason why truth is like a belt, or righteousness is like a breastplate, or even why salvation is like a helmet (as opposed to a javelin, say, or a good pair of shin protectors).

No, Paul’s point is simply that we need all of these things in order to “fight the good fight” – and given what we’ve seen of the church in Ephesus, we can see why he needed to make this point.

All the way through Ephesians, after all, we’ve seen Paul stress that:

  • God reaches out to more than just one group of people.
  • God gives His people more than just one spiritual gift.
  • God gives His people more than just one job to do.

All of which suggests that church members in Ephesus had a hard time remembering (much less doing) more than one thing at once.

So they’d focus on faith – but forget truth.

Or they’d focus on truth, but forget peace.

Or they’d focus on peace, but then they’d go and leave something else behind . . . which may not have seemed all that important at the time, but sooner or later was bound to catch up with them . . .

Kind of like the soldier who remembers his sword, but forgets his belt. To be sure, nobody wins a battle with a belt – but nobody wins without one, either!

That’s why Paul’s been working hard to make sure the Ephesians don’t get so focused on one piece of truth that they forget all the other truths God has for them.

That’s why Paul closes his letter with the reminder that there’s more than just one essential for Christian living. No, there’s several – and we can’t afford to leave any of them behind.

And if you don’t believe that, then just ask Fred.

Pastor Greg

And remember: “If it’s stupid but it works, it’s not stupid” – James F. Dunnigan.

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