The immediate comparisons between the “Iron Man”‘s costume and the “Armour of God” in Ephesians 6, are many. And I’m sure many a youth pastor are going to use this hugely popular movie as an illustration of the biblical armour. My purpose in the article is to see whether such a comparison can be made, and if so, up to what extent. Quick answer, yes comparisons can be made, but with caution.
On the outside
The obvious parallel between the two ideas is that the armour is put on the outside… for the world to see. Thus, even as people see the Iron Man (and the ending line is remarkably honest), so also people can see at least some of our spiritual armour (with natural eyes). The point is that we must not hide our faith, not hide our armour. It not only protects us, but also identifies who we are and whose we are.
On the inside
Tony Stark (Iron Man) needs a special life-support that not only gives him life, but also powers his suit. This, in some senses, could be parallel to our own regenerate life… our new born again life… without which neither do we truly live, nor does the whole armour make sense without it. Perhaps we can say it more personally; without the Holy Spirit, we can neither have life nor can we have power in our armour.
The purpose of the armour is to fight evil. Iron Man (previous weapons manufacturer Tony Stark) is struck by conscience and wants to rid the world (at least at the moment) of the obvious evil he sees. Not every evil, mind you, but only the evil that is directly concerned/related to him. Similarly, our own armour helps us fight not every single battle, but the battles that are relevant to us; against the evil around us (and in us).
Fight against whom?
Biblically, clearly we are fighting NOT against flesh and blood, but here, in Iron Man, his suit helps him only fight against flesh and blood. This is obviously different, since a movie will obvious beat-up bad-guys. But sometimes Christians tend to think that they’re fighting against people, even evil people, but that is definitely NOT the case. We are not fighting people, we are fighting evil (both the evil in the world and the evil in us)… with God’s help of course. We do not have an armour to fight a holy war against a religion or ethnic group… our armour is for justice and peace… and to fight the evil that makes injustice prevail (it’s not flesh and blood).
One of Iron Man’s features is his weaponry. He packs quite a punch, literally. However, in our spiritual/godly armour, there is only one aggressive weapon, and that is the sword of the spirit, the word of God. In fact, that weapon, is not even in our control, but in control by the Spirit himself “Sword OF THE SPIRIT”. Therefore, it is not we who use it as a weapon, but the Spirit of the Lord, in us, that enables us to use the word of God wisely. (again, not against flesh and blood)
The danger of wanting to look cool
Iron Man’s armour is cool, really cool. In fact, the whole movie is cool. In contrast, the armour of God, with a helmet and with a shield may not be such a cool image for us today. The image above is a case in point! Our association with the armour of God only brings ridicule and shame; not appreciation and wonder.
I know there’s a lot more that can be said, one way or the other. But it is good to think about how popular culture relates our faith, and how our faith must relate to our popular culture. This is just a start in that direction.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
photo credit: While the Iron Man still is from the movie site, the “Armour of God” graphic is adapted from an image found in the following site: http://www.smilinjackart.com/armour_of_god.jpg