A writer in the New Yorker some months ago analyzed television as “the context of no-context.” Think about that one. The only context in which the words are coming at us from the tube is our living room or kitchen, which has nothing whatever to do with the speaker. The speaker’s backdrop is usually a TV studio, which we know is a mock-up. So we are excused from evaluating what is said in terms of context. There is none.
In what context does a Christian live, move, act, think, decide? It must be the context of God’s kingdom. We either live in that kingdom, or we live in the world, taking our cues from the Bible or from the media, setting our goals according to what is going to matter forever or according to the quotation of the day.
Think, in the context of the kingdom of God, about this recent incident in a public school classroom: The teacher asked each child what his mother did. There was only one child whose mother did not work outside the home.
Consider the context from which that teacher’s questions come. It is not one which recognizes any divine design for the home, any glory in service, any joyful willingness to do humble work without thought of gain or appreciation. Consider the pressure put on a little child to question the only context his life has had, the context which has till now meant security, normalcy, and happiness. He will be wondering if his mother is some sort of an oddity, his home not an ordinary one.
It is not for nothing that the classic passage on the warfare of the Christian immediately follows Paul’s specific instructions about intimate human relationships: wives, submit; husbands, love; fathers, do not goad your children to resentment. These are the areas of most vicious and relentless attack. The Christian home is a stronghold, and the enemy will never let up his attempts to undermine it or breach its sanctity.
“Put on all the armor which God provides, so that you may be able to stand firm against the devices of the devil. For our fight is not against human foes [corrupt government officials, public school boards, for example, or even an impossible-to-live-with spouse or teenager] but against cosmic powers, against the authorities and potentates of this dark world, against the superhuman forces of evil in the heavens. Therefore take God’s armor …” (Eph 6:11-13 NEB).
Prayer is a powerful weapon. It is an indispensable weapon. It takes practice to wield it. It takes courage and time and spiritual energy.
**Excerpt originally published in Premier Issue (Nov. ‘82) Elisabeth Elliot Newsletter.