Sandals of Peace
Congregation of the Lord,
We are called to be ready to stand against the schemes of Satan. One of Satan’s biggest evil schemes is to do everything he can to make sure that believers do as little of sharing the Gospel as possible. Why does he focus on this?
• If the Gospel is not shared, not-yet-believers will not come to faith.
• If the Gospel is not shared, the overall ministry of the church becomes distracted.
• If the Gospel is not shared, enthusiasm for the important work of God diminishes.
Which is why this piece of armour is so important. It is a call to stand firm “with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace”. When it comes to our spiritual shoes one size fits all. We cannot be those who are fully equipped unless we have the Gospel. We will lack ministry focus unless we are willing to help people find peace with God. Paul is inviting us to let God’s Word fit us with feet of readiness. Do we have what it takes?
As we seek to answer this question there are a few issues we need to address. The first is to recognise that we will not be able to pass on the Gospel of peace until we have first experienced real peace with God. There is a time in our relationship with God when we were considered to be God’s enemies. There was a time when we were wondering around living our own life and ignoring the kingship of God. There was a times when our relationship with God was broken - and there was no peace.
For us to have an eternity of hope a process needed to take place. Theologically that process is called “reconciliation”. In practical terms reconciliation is what happens when Jesus Christ comes into our lives and breaks down all the barriers which stop us from having a real relationship with God. Romans 5:1-2 summarises the situation very nicely.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God”.
Jesus has been at work to bring into our lives a process which gives us peace. It is a process that leads to joy in our Christian walk.
What does all this have to do with having our feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace? It means we need to make sure that guilt is not used to pressure people into wearing these pieces of spiritual equipment. No one should take on kingdom work and be involved in the battle because they have been forced. Or because they have been made to feel guilty. Or because they are categorised as “unsaved” if they don’t participate.
• The spark that drives you to action should only be the spark of understanding God’s grace in your life.
• The driving force of your service to God is the fact that you have seen the Gospel of peace working in your own life.
We cannot share the excitement of the Gospel with others until we have first felt the excitement of it in our own lives. Kingdom work is the fruit of your love and acceptance of a Saviour who took your punishment
Before we can have our feet ready for the spiritual battle we need to honestly evaluate our own lives by asking, “How much impact does this Gospel of peace have on us?”. And let’s make sure we understand the nature of this question.
• It is not asking, “Do you believe in Jesus?”.
• It is not asking, “Are you saved?”.
• It is not even asking, “Are you a member of a church?”.
The question here is one of cause and effect. In God’s eyes I was ugly and full of sin. But God cared enough to shake me to my senses and open my eyes to see – to see for the first time – the futility of directing my hate against my Creator. That’s the gospel of peace. That is the cause of our salvation. And when we realise just how much God has done to make us into His special children it will be natural for our lives to be radically different.
As you think your relationship with God, how much impact does this Gospel of peace have in your life? Despite our rebellion God is not angrily and barbarously seeking revenge. Despite our shortcomings God never stood by smugly saying, "I told you so". Despite our protests God did what was necessary to bring peace between Him and you.
• Is it natural for us to be silent in the face of such grace?
• Is there enough gratitude on this earth to thank our Father for this precious gift?
We were so far from God - and He has now drawn us so close. When it comes to our Gospel service for God we cannot be driven by guilt and shame, but we do have to be willing to evaluate the genuineness of our gratitude.
It is a “cause and effect” issue. The desire of God to reveal His peace to us has an effect, and that effect should be our readiness to share this Gospel with others. In the spiritual battle we need to be people who have our feet fitted and ready with the Gospel of peace. Let’s read Romans 10:13-15.
‘‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”.
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”. That is reconciliation. That is the Gospel of peace. But there is a process which needs to take place.
“How can they call?” There will be no cries of repentance and faith until people have an understanding about God and the work of Jesus.
“How can they believe?” Believing involves knowing facts. Believing involves being engaged in discussion. Believing does not occur in isolation or a vacuum.
“How can they hear?” How will the Gospel go out unless someone speaks because they have enough compassion to care about the eternal well-being of others?
The peace that is in our heart should be a peace that transfers into readiness for action. We are not put on this earth just to look nice. Or to show the world that Christians are nice people. Yes, God has made us to look the part when it comes to the spiritual battle. He has given us everything we need for life and godliness. Faith. Renewal. Restoration. A new identity. A new focus. We can do all things through Him who gives us strength. But a soldier who looks the part and yet is not prepared to act the part is a hindrance to the army. Have you ever heard of an army advancing into a battle only to stop and show the enemy how nice they looked? Who really cares what they look like? If they are not going to act the part then they might as well not be there.
The call in this section is to put on the armour, and that armour includes having your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace. By directing our attention to this piece of armour Paul is reminding us of the mandate which Jesus Himself gave to the church. The very last words which Jesus spoke on earth are found in Acts 1:8 “You will be My witnesses ... to the ends of the earth”.
The mandate is pretty clear … especially when we realise that these words in Acts are actually the fifth time Jesus focussed on the Gospel character of the church.
• “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19).
• “Preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).
• “Repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in [Jesus’] name to all the nations” (Luke 24:47).
• “As the Father has sent Me I am sending you” (John 20:21).
Earlier in Ephesians Paul tells us that, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
• God calls us into His family.
• Through Christ God gives us the equipment we need to be ready in the spiritual battle.
• God even prepares the situations so that we will have an opportunity to act.
We can be those who bring the Gospel of peace - our feet can be ready. The only thing that is stopping us is our willingness to be involved.
God has given us this Gospel footwear and, if we are serious about standing firm with our feet fitted in readiness, we will see action and we will be used for God’s glory. That is a huge claim, but it is a claim which can be backed up by our text. To see why this is the case let’s have a closer look at this footwear for a moment. Now we have to remember that Paul has been using the battle equipment of a Roman soldier and then applying the lessons of this equipment in a spiritual way. It is well documented that part of the success of the Roman army can be attributed to the type of footwear the soldiers used.
The footwear used by a Roman soldier wore open toed with a lace up section that went up past the ankles. They were study, but they were also light. In the bottom of the shoe there were a number of spikes which enables the soldier to travel over different terrain including large boulders, trees, sharp jagged stones, rivers and swamps - and in all that terrain he never lost his footing. This footwear enabled the soldier to cover large distances in a short time meaning that enemies were often caught off guard because their defences had not been adequately prepared.
Another advantage of this footwear was the extra leverage it gave in hand-to-hand combat. In such a situation a soldier could not afford to be pushed backwards or to slip. These shoes helped a soldier stand his ground and advance even when the enemy was pressed against him.
When it came to protecting the feet the shoes were somewhat inadequate because of their lace up design. But the shoes enabled the soldier to step courageously into the battlefield because it gave them the confidence to advance against the enemy. That is the literal impact of the shoes in mind here. It is also the spiritual impact of the spiritual shoes which Paul has in mind. We can stand firm, and be courageous in the spiritual battle, we just need to make sure that our footwear has been provided by God. If that is the case the obvious question which comes out of this passage is, “Who is guiding our feet?”. It is the direction of the feet which determine the direction of the rest of the body. If the feet do not want to walk a particular path, there is no way the rest of the body will take that journey either.
So who guides our feet? Is it not true that we are called to follow in the footsteps of Christ Himself? And who is Jesus? Well Jesus can be described in many ways but I want to specifically consider the way Paul describes Him in Ephesians 1:22 which tells us that “God placed all things under the (Jesus’) feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church”.
We follow the One has everything under His feet.
• Where are the powers, dominions and authorities? Under His feet.
• Where are Satan, and death and sin? Under His feet.
• Where is all that will oppose and stand against Jesus? Under His feet.
And the same One who has all these things under His feet is the same One who is the head of the church. And this same One has called us into partnership with Him as He does His work. Which means that when we follow the feet of Jesus we are following in the footsteps of the One who has powers, dominion, authorities, Satan, sin and death under His feet. And if these things are under His feet, and we follow in His footsteps, where are these things going to end up? Under our feet.
There can be so many reasons which can be offered for not bringing the Gospel. But here is a real reason to step out and have courage as we work with Jesus. We should not be fearful to share the Gospel of peace because the impact of the Gospel does not rely on us, it relies on the powerful and finished work of Jesus.
• It is not the eloquence of your speech that convinces people.
• It is not the power of persuasion that convinces people.
• It is not doctrinal accuracy that convinces people.
• It is not just the elite in the Christian kingdom who will convince people.
The message of the Gospel relies solely on Jesus to open hearts. He is the victor over the schemes of Satan. He is the controller of any and every spiritual force that seeks to tear down the name of Jesus Christ.
Congregation that is the firmness upon which we stand. Being people who are evangelistically minded is part of the essence of Christian warfare. That’s the shoe we have been given. Not one which has the purpose of protecting our feet; but one that enables us to advance in confidence knowing a victory for Christ is looming.
One shoe fits all.
One shoe is necessary for all.
Without this footwear we are going to have a spiritual weakness in the spiritual battle. “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news”. We need such feet to be fully equipped. Feet which are driven by the eternal truth that “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved” – and we can be one of those who help them make that call.