January 2023 | The True Vine and The Soon Coming King

Shoes for Preparation of Gospel-Feet
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Shoes for Preparation of Gospel-Feet

Dr. J. N. Manokaran

According to Greek mythology, Achilles brave hero was the son of Thetis and Peleus.  His mother made him immortal by dipping him in the river Styx by holding him by one heel.  That part did not become wet so that part stayed mortal or vulnerable.  When Achilles fought heroically against the Trojans, but was killed by Paris, who shot him with an arrow at that heel.  The heel is the posterior end of the foot.  Unprotected foot became the reason for Achilles defeat and death.  It is no wonder Paul lists carefully the armour of a Christian.  

Paul urges Christians to be fully armoured for the life of warfare.  One of the military equipment is the shoes – “with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” (Ephesians 6:15) The world is not a perfect place as it came under curse of the Sin.  The first couple Adam and Eve gave away the domain over the world to Satan.  The whole life is a fight against death, decay and curse.  However, Lord Jesus Christ has redeemed humanity by his sacrifice on the cross of Calvary. Those who believe in Him receive forgiveness of Salvation and become part to the Army that rescues the perishing.  A soldier in the army has to be prepared, trained, and fully armed.  

Paul writes this Epistle to the believers in the city of Ephesus from the prison in Rome. He must have observed the Roman soldiers who were guarding him.  Certainly, he would have had long conversations with these soldiers and got insights of their life.  Then he applies the life of soldier to that of a Christian.  Keenly observing the armour the Roman soldier wears, Paul writes this beautiful metaphor.  In this chapter, we would focus only on the shoes.  

Human foot has more bones than any other single part of the body.  Yet, foot is vulnerable and is exposed to injury and hurt.  Hence, a shoe becomes an important item for human beings.  It has three functions:  Protect the foot; Offer comfort while foot is engaged in hard work and is a decoration. The shoes should protect from heat, cold, dirt, injury and harm while walking long distances.  Wearing shoes should not be a painful experience.  If shoes cause pain or blisters or discomfort, a soldier would not be able to focus on the task.  Imagine a soldier with all armour intact but without shoes. Shoes give a sense of dignity and certainly adds to the look of soldier.    Footwear in modern times comes in various shapes, colours, designs and contours.  They are made from a variety of materials including leathers, wood, canvas, plastics and petro-chemicals.  Lack of shoes makes a person immobile and unfit to accomplish even ordinary tasks.

A soldier cannot go to fight with slick or worn-out shoes.  In fact, soldiers need specially designed shoes – like the Roman soldier.  A Roman soldier would have shoes that cover the upper portion of the foot with leather straps and strong sole with spikes.  This kind of sole provided a Roman soldier a firm footing.  They can walk firmly even in slippery ground. The spikes came in handy while stamping or attacking the enemies.  

Preparationor readiness is a term that expects opportunities.  When preparation meets opportunity, there is victory.  A soldier is expected to be alert, watchful, and fully prepared to meet any adverse or hostile situation.  A Christian preparation begins with the firm foundation of Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross of Calvary and accomplished the work of redemption. The Foundation is in itself the victory.  A Christian does not begin the fight from defeat or from a neutral ground but from victory.  The process is from victory to victory.  

Preparation or readiness is upgraded to ground realities by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6)The resources needed to face adverse situations is provided by the Spirit of God.  

Preparation or readiness is by the Word of God that sanctifies a disciple of Lord Jesus Christ. Only clean, sharp instruments could be used for surgery. The shoes has to be clean – not soaked in mud or slush – to be used optimally  

Preparation is well explained in the Parable of Virgins.  The five virgins, who were not ready, did not have oil.  They were not able to buy or borrow or beg or steal.  Preparedness is a spiritual reality that cannot be bought as it is not a commodity; cannot be borrowed as it is not a common food that could be shared; cannot be received as it cannot be transferred; and certainly cannot be stolen from others who are prepared.  

The shoes help the soldier to be mobile and march forward.  The army of God is expected to move forward into new unreached areas, evicting the encroachment of enemy and bringing the reign of God.  “He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail” (1 Samuel 2:9). The psalmist held on to that same assurance when he wrote: “When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O Lord, held me up” (Psalm 94:18).

The Gospel proclamation is the most important task of a Christian soldier.  Moving forward into unchartered territories and proclaiming the good news is the most important task of the Church.  Prophet Isaiah writes:  “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”” (Isaiah 52:7; Romans 10:15)  The task as understood as the Great Commission task will not be easy as Isaiah states – ‘on the mountains’.  It is uphill task, hard task, toilsome task and yet a rewarding task.  It is rewarding as the good tidings brings peace.  

There are three kinds of peace expressed in the Scripture:  First, peace that is after victory in the battle; Second, peace that is reconciliation between two conflicted parties; and third, peace of mind and heart.  The Gospel offers all these three kinds of peace in Lord Jesus Christ.  Peace is assured because Satan has been defeated and so are sin, death and world. “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,  having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Col 2:13-15)

Peace between God and human beings and peace between Jews and Gentiles and all warring ethnic communities.  Paul writes about the ministry of reconciliation, which is based on peace. (I Cor 5:18) “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. (Eph 2: 14-18)

Lord Jesus Christ also offers peace that is beyond understanding or comprehension which the world cannot give or take it away.  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

As will (decision making capacity) is very important for a person (personality/soul); so is the foot for the physical body.  The soldier can move only if the foot cooperates.  The foot carries the soldier in the direction he wants to go, in the speed he wants to go.  The priority of the gospel proclamation determines the direction of the church and how the church grows or multiplies.  

All armour is required for a Christian soldier.  As offensive weapons the Sword of the Spirit and the Shoes are strategic.  To evict Satan from his encroachment of the world; the Church wearing the shoes of the gospel of peace and wisely using the Sword of the Spirit should move forward.

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