If your daily activities involve lots of heavy lifting, there’s nothing like a good belt to hold everything in place and prevent injuries.
I’m a shepherd – a pastor of God’s flock and an owner of four-legged sheep. Those who shear my sheep wear a shearer’s belt or brace. It’s attached to a harness, fitted with a spring or counterweight, that supports the shearer in bending over, straightening up and flexing around while shearing the sheep. Supported by that belt and harness, the shearer is better able to work without injuring himself or herself, or the sheep. Without that support, sheep shearers won’t last long in their work.
God’s people need a good belt to support us in the daily spiritual lifting that goes with following the good shepherd, Jesus Christ. Pastors need this belt when tending to God’s flocks and their own souls. Without it, we’d not be fit for this ministry of feeding, guarding and guiding the flock. All God’s people need this good belt every minute of their lives, in all their fields of endeavor.
Our good shepherd has given us just such a belt. St. Paul wrote about this belt in Ephesians 6 – it’s the first item on the list of spiritual armor:
Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist. (Ephesians 6:14)
If you’ve ever heard this expression —“What’s true for you may not be true for me” – then you’ve bumped up against culture’s increasing assault on truth. It’s become popular to prefer to believe what we prefer to be true. So, it’s significant that Paul puts truth first on his list of spiritual armor, and that he uses the image of a belt to describe the importance of truth.
Just as a belt and harness hold up the sheep-shearer, the “belt of truth,” God’s Word, keeps us upright, fit and useful for the kingdom of God. This belt of truth holds everything together at the center of our spiritual life and body.
Think about it. What do misplaced priorities, false perceptions, risky choices, and warped values lead a person to do? That kind of life isn’t healthy for body, mind or spirit. When we rely on anything other than the truth of God’s word to hold us up, no matter how good it sounds or how much we want it to be true, we’re in for trouble. Our illusions won’t hold us — or anything — up and together for long.
Jesus, the Living Word, came to bring the truth in all its fullness, once and for all. When a doubting Thomas needed clarity, truth for his faith journey, Jesus assured him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) That means a Christian’s understanding of what’s true will be grounded in God’s Word and centered on Jesus. Because it is, a Christian’s understanding of truth will go beyond what society generally considers “true” and will even run counter to it.
Jesus, our good shepherd, is Truth, and his truth will never fail you. Put on the belt of God’s truth, found in his written Word and the Living Word, Jesus Christ, and live boldly for him.
The writer is the pastor for Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Jackson Center.