Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Finding the Right Shoes
Eph. 6:15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.
Paul admonishes the people of God to put on the whole armor of God. Foundational to the armor is the footwear. The church is to carry within her the gospel of peace, and this is difficult in the best of times. The Apostle knew that the new church was facing difficulty and to remain an instrument of God’s peace in the face of opposition would not be easy. It was time to stand firm with a gospel of peace.
To stand firm, Roman soldiers had to alter their footwear. Instead of the usual sandals, they had their footwear adapted so that those on the front lines would not slip and fall in battle. They added thicker soles which were punctuated by nails. It was like putting on shoes with cleats so that they could maintain traction and stand firm in the heat of the battle.
Now, it was time for the church to be prepared with footwear, readied for spiritual battle. A deep spiritual understanding of peace would be necessary for the church on the front lines to stand firm in the midst of an enemy charge. But not only would the church be able to stand firm, but she would have the right footwear for the spiritual and missional journey. Feet prepared with the gospel of peace are ready to climb mountains to share the good news. There is an urgency to travel, so the gospel can be heard. In traveling we recognize that we have not yet reached perfection, but this becomes a perfecting journey; participating in the mission of God while being transformed into the image of God. But the movement is only possible when the feet are prepared with the right shoes.
My mother has often told me stories of her upbringing in a German community on the prairies of Canada. Her family was poor and yet, hard-working. She needed a new pair of shoes and she wanted something that would be pretty. Her family couldn’t afford pretty, and so, the shoes would have to be practical. There wasn’t money for her to have more than one pair, and they would have to be sturdy enough to get her to and from school, and to work on the family farm. Sadly, she accepted the fact that the pretty shoes were not to be.
Today, I have a closet with a number of options when it comes to shoes. Finding the right ones to wear which will keep me comfortable for long days on my feet is becoming more of a challenge. Every day I need to check my schedule and then I make a decision regarding my footwear. Sometimes I even throw an optional pair of flat shoes into my backpack, just to be safe! I do this, because I know that having the right shoes on my feet will have a direct impact on my ability to function throughout the day. Too long in high heels and I will be miserable!
Spiritually we need to check our shoes on a daily basis as well. Before I go out the door, have I made preparation for the day? Do I have a backup? We are to be carriers of the gospel of peace in this world. There will be those prepared to battle against us, pushing us and trying to make us fall. We need to be able to stand firm, but this will only happen when we are prepared. Preparation means spending time in God’s holy presence. We must read the word, pray, and be discipled by those around us. We must be a part of a community of faith that provides for accountability and spiritual growth.
Churches are to be communities where people are prepared — a type of shoe store! It’s in the church where we pick up the different styles so that we have a closet ready for different situations. Yes, we may even have a reason to wear pretty shoes (which would make my mom happy!) But it’s as a community that we grow and strengthen one another, helping to provide the tools for the gospel of peace. The church, herself, will come under fire from the world, as she is provoked to do battle. Instead, in that moment, the church puts on her cleats, standing firm, clinging to the gospel of peace. With the right footwear in place, she does not fall down in the midst of pressure, but instead, continues to grow in God’s grace.
We all need the right shoes to be able to engage in God’s mission in the world. If we have an empty closet, we won’t be prepared. We know that things won’t be easy, so we really do need those practical shoes that will get us through. The journey is a long one. It’s not easy, and we will need to change shoes from time to time. If we’re not prepared, it will be arduous and painful. Take the time to be prepared, find the right shoes, and go, stand firm.
Lord, please help me to stand in the place of preparation every day. Amen.