I was rereading what is for me a seminal portion of scripture. Seminal indicates a thing that sticks in your mind and influences you long into the future. Reading this portion of scripture closes a circle for me. There was a time to learn it, and there would come a time to act on it. I think that time has arrived.
I was fortunate enough to have commited this scripture to memory in a childhood contest at the age of eight. I didn’t fully understand its meaning then, but for memorization, I received the book “Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan. It is the first book I ever owned, and I still have it, a little dog-eared but inscribed on the first page as life advice I should take to heart.
The portion of scripture is also famous. It comes from Ephesians chapter six, Paul’s advice to the church, how to know the times you are in and how to shoulder what is required of you. He is not speaking to children. Paul’s counsel is for the sober and wise to put into action. He is talking about battle preparations. He is talking about the armour of God. He is talking about the “evil day”.
I always wondered growing up in a church culture, what they were talking about when they spoke darkly about end times. I wondered if such a time would arrive like Christ said, like a thief in the night with everyone sleeping, or if it would sneak up gradually. I think both are true. The evil day creeps up on you but you have to have your eyes open to see it, primarily because evil most often parades as virtue. Before you realize it, evil surrounds you. One of my favourite Canadian thinkers, George Grant puts it like this, “If tyranny is to come to North America, it will come cozily and on cat’s feet.” He also said, “The present darkness is a real darkness, (only) we have largely forgotten our ancient compasses”.
The first thing you will see in the evil day, is falsity parading as fact - most notably in the press, where we go to get informed. Remember “fake news”, one of the most bandied-about terms of 2020? I routinely see what I would call narrative journalism replacing real news. Narrative journalism creates the narrative for you. It frames the question, and provides the answer, unloading conjecture as fact. The wise, will read with a grain of salt. Buying at face value what someone else is selling robs you of the foundational virtue of having your own mind.
I think we are in the evil day now. I was reading a Quora commentary on the Canadian government, and it was cynical reading. The writer said that the state of corruption in Canada is now so open and unapologetic, that it is pure comedy. The players are such bald amateurs that they are bad even in their own deceptions. I think what the writer said is true, but I don’t find it very funny. It makes me want to stand back from the current state of affairs enough to carve out my own ground.
This approach for Christians has sometimes been called “The Benedict Option” in Rod Dreher’s book of the same name. He refers to what options are left when the world is so openly opposed to Christians that they are forced to remove themselves. There is some appeal to this but realistically, if we are to stand in an evil day, it is to do so in spite of all that is going on around us. Passively taking a different route is not enough.
Looking around me in 2021, falsehoods abound. More than that, they seem to have taken over, and evil people have colluded on a global scale to usurp the world I should enjoy as a free man.
Here is the portion of scripture: quoted from verses ten to eighteen of the chapter.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”
Newsflash people. The evil day is here, and we are living it. Principalities and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places about sums it up. Looking into 2021 I see a battle forming and it is my job to be sober and vigilant, and to do the part of a man for the sake of myself and those in my care. Taking up the whole armour of God in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
That’s my plan for 2021.