Monday, May 23, 2016

What Kind of Shoes Are You Wearing?

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; - Ephesians 6:13-15

There is a lot to be said about the armor of God.  In fact, I'm teaching through a series on the armor in my ladies' Sunday School class, and let me tell you, there's a lot to sift through.  But this morning, I would like to focus on verse 15:  And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;  In essence, God is telling us to put on our "gospel shoes."  But what are gospel shoes?

For starters, we need to understand what the gospel is.  The word "gospel" literally means "good news," but from there, people are left to interpret their own definitions.  Paul tells us in I Corinthians 15 that the gospel (good news) is the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and all that is made possible because of that (heaven, victorious Christian life, etc.).  This is the good news we are supposed to wear and share.  Unfortunately, not everyone is following this gospel, for they have created gospels of their own.  I would like to discuss a few of these today, and since we're talking about having our feet shod with the gospel, I'm going to relate them to shoes.

First off, we have the dress shoes.  They are beautiful and shiny on the surface, but the truth is that they're only brought out for special occasions or Sundays.  This is the gospel that declares that people are doing God a favor by showing up for church in their Sunday best, and God will bless them for that.  It's not about worshiping God.  It's about doing good and being seen, nothing more.

Then we have the bedroom slippers, which are becoming increasingly popular.  This gospel is comfortable and feels good but has no real substance.  Have you ever walked out on the wet grass in your bedroom slippers?  They didn't hold up, did they?  This gospel is preached by those who don't want to offend, so they avoid preaching about sin and instead tell their congregation that everyone is okay as long as they try to do right.  It's a "come just as you are" philosophy.  Unfortunately, people also leave just as they came.  Without real preaching, their hearts remain unchanged.

We can't forget the flip-flop gospel.  Like bedroom slippers, flip flops are casual and comfortable, but they're also easy.  I equate these to people who don't agree with the teaching of their church, but they're too lazy to study the Bible for themselves or to take the effort to find a church they can agree with.  They're content to stay put because it's the easiest thing for them to do.  The problem with flip flops is that they offer no protection neither do they hold firm to the foot, which makes it easy to slip.  For those who are wishy-washy in their faith--not certain what or who they believe--spiritual catastrophe is inevitable.

Let's talk about the work boots.  In general, the work boot gospel sounds good.  It is rigid and protective, but the problem is that it has become too rigid, and it weighs people down with a long list of rules and regulations.  Like the Pharisees of the Bible, they're all about the work to be done.    According to this gospel, grace and faith are not enough to save.  There must be more. . . much more. This crowd is always working to ensure their place in eternity, and they're very proud of themselves for being so holy and righteous.

What about tennis shoes?  Obviously, when running a race (as we are), tennis shoes are great shoes.  They give much-needed support to the foot and are perfect for speed and some endurance.  Unfortunately, they are lightweight and often composed of mesh which won't hold up well in the battles or storms of life.  This reminds me of newer or weaker Christians who don't yet understand the complexities of the Christian life.  In their minds, they still see the Christian journey as a walk in the park, free from heartaches and trials.  They equate God's promise of joy and peace to an absence of trouble, but such is not the case.  They're ready to run the race, but they're unprepared for battle.

Finally, we have our hiking boots (you knew I had to go there, didn't you?).  Hiking boots are supportive, protective and offer a sure grip.  They are made for steadfastness and endurance.  While they are rigid to a degree, they are also flexible enough to allow the foot room to move and grow.  These are the shoes that represent the true gospel, giving us a firm place to stand and holding us securely through every storm.

Just as shoes allow us to walk on painful terrain without fear, the gospel enables us to walk down painful roads and through the trials of life without fear.  Shod with the gospel, we can travel down rough and rocky roads and journey through the fire.

So, I ask you again:  what kind of shoes are you wearing?

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