I am a student of Japan. I have always been fascinated by their history, their culture and their people. I’m not sure where this fascination comes from, but ever since I was old enough to know what a samurai was, I’ve wanted to know more. And on that same note, I love armor. Armor is a terribly fascinating study, especially the armor of the samurai.
Medieval armor was interesting, yes. But the samurai, to me, were on a different level.
I know my writing habit is what drew me to first begin studying Japan and the samurai, but the more I study it, the more it intrigues me. I actually even bought a book called the Code of the Samurai which is actually a translated text about bushido; it’s actually a really good read and I’d recommend it for anyone who wants to know more about the rules by which the samurai lived.
I think one of the things that fascinates me the most about samurai armor is that they all look different. Google samurai armor sometime and see what you come back with. They are beautiful examples of craftsmanship. Art, really. Passed down from generation to generation, each one symbolizing something in that particular family. Medieval armor is different; it all looks very much the same. Why else do you think people had to come up with heraldic symbols and colors? They couldn’t tell each other apart. But not samurai. The samurai were all unique and you could identify them by the armor they wore.
The verse this morning is familiar. One of those ones that gets quoted a lot but it’s one that people actually don’t really think about because it’s kind of freaky.
12 For we[a] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.
Other translations say that we fight against spiritural forces. Creepy huh? Do you ever think about that? About the fact that there really is spiritual warfare going on all around us? And no, you children of the 80’s, not Spiritual Warfare as in the awful old Nintendo game where you wandered the streets and converted nonbelievers (anybody remember that? Ugh).
There is a battle going on around us every day that we can’t see. It’s a struggle for our attention, our faith, our belief. Demons and angels. God and Satan. God already dealt Satan a blow he can’t recover from; when Jesus died on the cross it ended Satan’s hold on us (we have to choose it, though). But Satan hasn’t backed down yet. He still thinks he can win, so he’s throwing everything he has at us.
But God has given us everything we need to resist him. God has given us his armor.
I don’t usually do this, but I’m including the rest of the verse.
14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.[d] 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.[e] 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Truth. God’s righteousness. Peace. Faith. Salvation. The Word. Those are the pieces of armor that God has given to us to fight against what Satan throws at us. If we wear them, nothing can hurt us. But do we use them? It’s rare. I know I don’t always use my armor when I have the option. I’d rather fight and struggle through a situation unarmed, but that usually ends up injuring me and the people around me.
Would a samurai have forgotten to put his armor on before he left for battle? Unlikely. His armor was the symbol of his family, his heritage, his honor . . . . and, let’s face it, folks, it was just common sense.
So we who are Christians need to remember that every day is a battle. And we’re not fighting against what we can see. We don’t fight against our coworkers (no matter if they annoy us) or our family (even if they frustrate us) or our government (even though The Man is getting a little big for his britches). We are fighting the remnants of a war that God has already won for us.
So don’t forget to put your armor on. It serves a dual purpose, after all. It keeps you safe and you look totally awesome wearing it. =)
Samurai, circa 1860