Get Your Shoes On!
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ Romans 5:1
We don’t like to have a lot of rules at camp. That being said, we do have to have a few to keep people safe so their time at camp is remembered for how much fun they had and not the trip to the emergency room they had to make. Perhaps the rule which is hardest for staff and campers both to follow, especially in the summer, is that shoes or sandals must be worn when outside at camp. When it is 75 degrees outside and sunny, shoes are often viewed as an annoying delay to getting out and having fun. So why is having shoes on a rule at camp?
Because you never know what might hiding in the grass that would not be good to step on. Rocks and twigs are plentiful at both of our camps. While we are careful and diligent to pick up construction debris from various work projects, there is always the chance we have missed a nail or screw. Just like at home, when something glass falls to the floor and breaks it seems impossible to sure it is all swept up for a couple of days. Not to mention spiders, bugs, and insects of various sorts which are alive and well in the summer, ready to attack the wayward bare foot which might happen to step upon them or their home.
Wearing your shoes is an important part of camp for multiple good reasons.
Shoes are included as a piece of our spiritual armor, also for multiple good reasons. Ephesians 6:15 tells us to stand firm “with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” It seems a bit odd that shoes would be an important part of our armor, but they are included, just as everything else is, for a specific reason. Let’s start out by looking at the shoes the Roman soldier at the time, the shoes Paul’s readers would have been familiar with and imagining in hearing this message, would have been wearing.
The Roman soldier’s footwear was pretty high-tech for the time. It was made up of multiple layers of leather with spikes of some sort embedded into the sole of the shoe. It allowed them to march for miles at a time without worry of developing blisters or stepping on something which would harm their foot. The spikes would help them hold their ground when fighting an enemy as well as provide an extra weapon as they stomped on a fallen enemy in the battlefield. In fact, as the Roman army advanced, enemy soldiers who had fallen would often have multiple puncture wounds from the shoes of the Romans as they marched over them.
And just as the shoes of the Roman soldier helped them stand their ground in the midst of battle, the gospel of peace helps us stand firm in our faith regardless of what is happening in the world around us. The Greek word used here for gospel is euaggelion which means grace and salvation. The gospel of peace isn’t a missing book from Scripture but the Good News of God’s grace and salvation being available for anyone and everyone. This gospel, this good news, is itself is to be where all believers find their firm footing in faith.
Beyond making a statement about what our faith should be rooted in, Paul is saying something about how we are use the Gospel in the instruction to shod our feet with the gospel of peace. Shoes were primarily worn when one was going to be walking a great distance. Similarily, the Christian journey, for the vast majority of us, will be a long and, at times, hard one. The right footwear, the gospel of peace, will enable us to keep walking towards Christ and not get sidetracked in our journey.
Shoes also enabled the Roman soldier to advance without hesitation. They didn’t have to worry about debris on the road ahead of them so instead of looking down at their feet all the time, they could look ahead and keep their focus on the task set before them. Similarly, our spiritual shoes help us to keep our focus on what is ahead instead of what might be trying to distract us by darting into our paths. And finally, because of the shoes protecting their feet and keeping them on track, Roman soldiers marched in formation which both intimidated their enemy and allowed them to plow through threats which tried to stand in their way. Putting our on our spiritual shoes, not having to dart around debris or fall to the side of the road, enables us to keep marching forward with our brother’s and sister’s in Christ and stay, for lack of a better way to say it, in formation.
- How are your “feet” feeling? In other words, how is your faith journey? Have you been remembering your spiritual shoes or trying to make a go of it without them?
- What debris on the road is most likely to cause you to stumble or hurt your feet if you don’t have your spiritual shoes on?
- Who can you share the good news of the Gospel with in your life?