Knights in gleaming armor mounted on mighty steeds, banners whipping in the wind as they gallop to the top of the hill before the barbarian armies, await the clash and toil of war, creating a vivid picture of manliness and courage. Literature treats us to visions of noble kings and their valiant knights assembled, prepared to fight for honor and glory. So thrilling and yet, sorry to say, as followers of Christ, we must strip off that splendid get up and don the much simpler, more humble armor of Christ. We forsake old life of pride and begin a new one, where we are mighty in the spirit but lowly in the flesh. The old way is the way of pride, but now Jesus calls us to be meek, as He is.
In medieval times, knights wore incredibly heavy armor to protect themselves against other knights who wore similar gear. The suits of armor in museums look uncomfortable and unwieldy. Knights needed squires to help them get in and out of their armor and on and off their horses. Jousting was basically an exercise in knocking one another off horses. Once on the ground, the armor could become a trap, keeping the knight from escaping. Their vision was limited to a mere slit in their head piece and often the only way to kill a knight in combat was to slide your sword into that small slit. What a brutal way to die. And what an interesting picture of pride.
I am learning a basic lesson in this journey as a believer. One cannot operate out of pride,and at the same time, wear the full armor of Christ. To protect oneself with pride is to be imprisoned within a structure that, despite our best efforts, is easily noticed by the enemy and makes us an easy target for deception. You see, pride feels safe, but in fact, makes one vulnerable.
Compare this to the armor of God. You are assigned shoes, a helmet, a breastplate, a sword and a shield. Everything major is protected, but you have mobility and complete vision. You can dress yourself. However, you are more vulnerable. Others can see who you are. The armor is important but it does not serve as a trap or as a cover for who you are. It enhances your life but it is not your life. It is your arsenal.
…your life is hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3
I have come to think of pride as that old suit of armor we fashion for ourselves. It shows the world only what we want them to see. It is fashioned in order to intimidate others. The mask on a suit of armor is formed to look frightening and cruel or perhaps perfect and unassailable. Some of us are the Black Knight, fearsome and daunting to any who would threaten. Others of us prefer the shining armor and the white horse. We want to be heroes.
And pride traps us. Our armor is created in the image of what we would like to be. But like the medieval knight, our vision of others and ourselves becomes limited. We require more and more help in the form of approval from others to maintain our armor. We are trapped behind our self-made masks, but leaving our protective shell behind is terrifying. We could get hurt or worse, if we expose ourselves for who we really are.
But isn’t that what Jesus did? The king of the universe walked humbly in our midst, suffered betrayal at our hands willingly, and died a criminal’s death. He consorted with the poor, the wounded, and the immoral. And as we follow him down the Calvary road, we must travel light. Knights in all their glory are not found there, only foot soldiers following the way of their king.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29