Depending on God in a time of evil by Julian Mann for Christian Today
A secular historian writing at the end of the 21st century might validly identify the social, cultural and political reasons for the decline of Britain leading to its violent Balkanisation by, say, 2050. A perceptive historian might cite the decline of Christianity as a cultural factor in Britain’s implosion. But secular history cannot be sacred history of the kind found in Old Testament books such as 1 and 2 Kings and so inevitably the crucial spiritual dimension to the story would be left out.
The New Testament epistle reading in the Book of Common Prayer set for today, the twenty-first Sunday after Trinity, is vital to the Christian’s understanding of the workings of evil. The reading is from chapter six, verses 10 to 20, of St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, a passage which Lady Thatcher’s granddaughter read out at her funeral service in St Paul’s Cathedral in 2013.
The Apostle Paul’s final exhortation in his letter to the Christian Church in 1st century Ephesus begins:
“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 (Ephesians 6 v10-13).”
Paul was drawing his readers’ attention to the spiritual forces behind the evils of idolatry, sorcery, gross sexual immorality, violence and greed which they saw in the pagan city in Roman Asia where they lived as a Christian minority.