Wednesday, May 4, 2022
Ephesians 6:15 “…and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”
I don’t like to go barefoot. I never have. I admit it – I’m a tenderfoot. Walking on rocks and gravel and sticks hurts. Even when I go into the river to baptize people, you will notice I always wear sandals. Walking around the house without shoes on bothers me. When I try to work without shoes on, my legs get tired more quickly. I want my feet protected so I can be more active for longer periods of time.
There’s a reason why we don’t see barefoot NBA players or NFL players. Shoes are vital to the safety, strength, and endurance of athletes. They are just as vital for me every day. And my spiritual shoes are equally important. Think back to the days of the Roman soldier, when marching was the only means of moving from one battlefield to the next. Think of the topography of the land, and the lack of infrastructure like paved bike paths. Marching was tough work, and it would have been impossible without the underbinding of their feet. (The word translated “fitted” in our verse today literally means “to underbind”.) Efficiency and endurance were of high priority to the soldiers and their commanders. No matter how well equipped they may have been with the rest of their armor, they would have been miserable without their sandals. They would have marched more slowly, stood less firmly, and been injured more quickly.
There are several analogies we can make to our spiritual lives from this word picture. First, we are prepared to march when we hear and accept the Gospel of peace. We are to be ready to move out into the fields of spiritual battle at the Lord’s command. I remember the morning a fire destroyed the home in Augusta, WI, a community only 20 miles from where I live. Nobody was home at the time of the fire, but several pets didn’t make it out of the house. As the four fire departments fought the blaze, assistance arrived from a group of people who populate our area of Wisconsin. They are known as the Amish. They have no phones, no motor vehicles, no electricity. They travel by horseback and by horse-drawn buggy. According to a story on the web site for WEAU TV, “if there’s smoke in the sky or sirens rushing by Amish men don’t waste any time heading in that direction.”
Here’s what the Fire Chief said about their presence at the fire. “They won’t say how they dispatch, but if they’re in the area, they’re coming. They just appear! It’s great. They’ll drop everything and come. Even in the middle of the night, they’re coming across the field.”
What a great example for those of us who follow Jesus Christ as our Commander-in-Chief. The Gospel of Jesus Christ that brings peace prepares us to march into the field of conflict and disaster and bring the Good News of a Savior’s help.
Second, With our Gospel shoes of peace on, we will be able to stand and fight more firmly and with greater endurance. I can’t imagine what it must be like to feel the despair of living in this lost world without the peace of God. In Christ, we are at peace with God, which guarantees our eternity, and we experience the peace of God that surpasses all human understanding. The one thing a true soldier doesn’t want to have to worry about is whether the next stone or stick on the path is going to so injure his foot that he won’t be able to stand and fight. And the one thing we don’t have to worry about is that the next tragedy, loss, or hardship in our lives is going to destroy the foundation upon which we stand, because we stand on the truth of the Gospel of peace.
The third and final point came to me this morning because of a misreading of a word. As I was reading one of the commentators on this subject, and he was saying that the shoes were part of the soldier’s defense against their foes, I read the word toes. My mind instantly went into high gear, thinking about how shoes protect my toes from injury. Some jobs even require steel-toed shoes for greater protection. Then I thought of how often the army of Jesus Christ is slowed and even stopped because someone’s toes were stepped on. When we are not adequately prepared with the Gospel of peace, people will be able to step on our toes. We will get offended by what they say, even if there is truth in it. We will build defenses. We will alienate ourselves from people. We will walk away from our church. We will carry a grudge. We will live in a state of conflict rather than in peace. And it’s all because we weren’t properly fitted with the Gospel of peace.
Many times we make the choice to focus on self rather than service. We make the choice to satisfy the flesh rather than the Father. We make the choice to be takers rather than givers in our relationships. We allow the personal to overwhelm the spiritual, and we have no peace. If this sounds like I’m stepping on your toes, then you’re exactly the one to whom I’m speaking. In the words of my grandfather, “I’m sorry if I stepped on your toes – I was aiming for your heart.”
My friends, the church of Jesus Christ must not be slowed down in its mission by people who are easily offended because they are not properly equipped with good shoes to protect their toes. If that’s you, then put your shoes on. The peace of God that comes from the security of your salvation and produces unchangeable worth will conquer your need to find value in others or in performance. That will resolve the issue of stubbed toes.
So let’s get ready to march with great endurance and focus on the mission of God. Get prepared with the Gospel of peace. His shoes always fit.