Summary: We must put feet on our faith. Evangelism is credible if we make certain our lives are clean, if we expose what we believe to others, and if we go confidently into the world with our faith.
Feet are ugly. That’s what someone suggested to me the (other day. Feet are ugly. I can’ t remember why that subject came up, but she insisted that feet are bony, unkempt, twisted, weird, and much the worse for wear after forty or fifty years of use. She said, if I recall correctly, that God must have been joking when He made feet: feet are ugly. In fact, feet are more than ugly; they are ugggglee! Got that?
So let’s think this morning about how to have beautiful feet. I’m quite sure this has been one of your lifelong ambitions -- to have beautiful feet.
I’m watching your eyes go down as some of you check out your lower extremities! You did wear shoes, didn’t you?
Now I did think about asking everybody to take off their shoes for this sermon. I did think seriously about taking my own off. We Kentuckians, you know, always feel uncomfortable wearing shoes. But I figured that on a warm day, with questionable air conditioning … well, you can finish that sentence.
How to have beautiful feet. Are you hearing this morning from the preacher or the podiatrist? From Dr. Smith or from Dr. Scholl?
Paul in Romans quotes the prophet Isaiah, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news. " The good news of which he speaks is the news of salvation, the good news about what God in Jesus Christ has done for us. Paul is speaking about the importance of everyone’s hearing that good news; he is also speaking about our responsibility to be the bearers of the good news.
Listen to this absolutely unarguable series of questions: “How are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, ’How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’"
You get beautiful feet by using them to carry bring good news.
I want to talk with you this morning about evangelism. Evangelism is the name we give to our responsibility for sharing the good news with others. I want us to think about our individual, personal responsibility to share the faith.
And I want to do so by arguing that when we share that good news, not only will we serve the needs of others, but we also will feel personal fulfillment. When we make the effort to offer Christ and His love to others, we will have done something for them, of course; but we will also have done something for ourselves. I’ll put it this way: bringing the good news to others will give us beautiful feet.
Now I’m aware this morning that evangelism has a poor image. The very word evangelism sends shudders up and down the spines of some people. There is a negative quality about this business of convincing or persuading others to become Christians. We need to face that negativism and deal with it.
So the first step that Dr. Scholl, or, I mean, Dr. Smith, wants to recommend is that we clean up our smelly feet. Wash our ugly feet. One of the reasons we have such a hard time sharing our faith is that we know that something smells in our lives, and that until that is dealt with, we’re not going to be good news for anyone.
What does the world think of when it thinks of evangelism? It thinks of overbearing, know-it-all types who sound as though they are against everything that is fun. It thinks of sex scandals and of money-grubbers. It thinks of steamroller organizations and ultra right-wing politics. It thinks of mindless tract-pushers who don’t care about people, but only about winning arguments and humiliating their victims. Evangelism has had a very bad public image. Like weary feet on a summer day, it smells.
The other day Mrs. Currie invited me to attend a seminar on conflict management. She thought, and rightly, that I would find some of the ideas taught there very useful around the church. But not five minutes after I arrived, one of the seminar leaders, trying to help us learn to respect people, said, "Don’t preach to people. Nobody likes preachers!" Ouch! What is worse, I even thought I heard an Amen out of sister Currie! You do know how to hurt a guy!
But you know what the teacher was saying. He was saying that no one can hear a good news message if the messenger uses a bad news style. No one can hear a good news message if the messenger himself is bad news.