Do You Wear a Hat?

“And take the helmet of salvation …” (Ephesians 5:17a NKJV).
Bangladesh is hot! At least, it is most of the time. There are a couple of months where daytime temperatures are better described as “warm” or “nice,” but other than that it is hot. And bright! Except for the rainy season, and even then for much of most days, the sun shines intensely. Since Bangladesh is near the equator, the sun is more directly overhead, thus has less atmosphere to burn through, meaning that its rays are felt more strongly.
The practical application of all that is that I need to wear a hat when I am outside in Bangladesh. Whether I am working in the campus (or watching others work) at KBC, walking for exercise or to get to the villages for preaching or traveling in boats for the same purpose, shelter from the sun is essential. I need it for comfort, and to prevent damage to my skin.
There are other reasons for wearing something on one’s head. Muslim women wear veils and hoods for modesty and to show respect towards men. Our grandmothers often wore bonnets to protect their fair skin from the sun. Ladies attending the Kentucky Derby wear hats as fashion statements. Cowboys wear hats, as do ball players, policemen, firefighters, and the military, as part of a uniform or style of dress suitable for their occupations and activities. And, of course, there are always those who simply like them. A hat can be protective, stylish, personal, descriptive, or simply comfortable.
This line of reasoning suggests the question, “why are Christians issued the helmet of salvation?” What exactly does Paul mean by this expression? As one examines the “whole armor of God” described in Ephesians 6:13-17 there is obvious significance and application to many of the articles of apparel. The Sword of the Spirit is the Christian’s weapon, and one may readily see how it should be used and why it is needed. The same is true of the belt (“girdle”) of truth, the shield of faith, or the breastplate of righteousness. But what manner of headgear is the helmet of salvation? What does it do for us, and how do we utilize it?
Salvation itself may be defined in several ways. First, it is redemption from sin (Acts 2:38-47). One is saved when his sins are forgiven (Romans 6:6,7; 8:1), guilt is removed, and he is no longer under sentence of death (Romans 6:23). A second definition of salvation has to do with the inheritance of the righteous, eternal life with God and Christ (Titus 3:4-7). Ultimately salvation is realized when God’s people are welcomed into Heaven to dwell in his presence forever. During this life, however, this is perceived in terms of hope (Romans 8:23-25). Faith in the promise of eternal life -– the hope of salvation -– is itself a perception of salvation which is given to the Christian in this life.
The helmet of salvation -– the Christian’s headgear –- acts for him in much the same ways that our ordinary hats function, just as the other articles of armor correspond with their physical namesakes. The conviction that he is saved protects him from doubt and fear, making persecution and temptation less effective. The hope of salvation provides comfort to its wearer, sheltering and soothing him in any environment. The joy of salvation identifies those who have been freed from slavery to sin, and who are radiant with the love of Jesus, confident in their eternal home, and anxious to join all those who share that same blessed faith.
This world is filled with sin, temptation, and danger. We must protect ourselves in every way possible. Let us clothe ourselves with God’s armor. Don’t forget your hat!

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