Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 130; 148, Isaiah 45:18-25, Ephesians 6:1-9, Mark 4:35-41
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul created one of the most popular extended metaphors in Christian literature: the armor of God. He writes about the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit. He also mentions shoes, but is noticeably less specific about them: “put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.”
What do we put on to make us ready to proclaim the gospel of peace? As a society we design and purchase shoes specific to a countless number of functions. Sneakers are now court shoes, cross-trainers, running shoes, walking shoes, water socks, driving moccasins, and on and on. We buy shoes specific to occupations, seasons, and recreational choices (a tip of the hat to all you bowlers!). Perhaps we really don’t need so many kinds of shoes, but each makes its corresponding activity easier, safer, and more comfortable. That may be a good model for proclaiming the gospel.
Not everyone is open to hearing the good news in the same way, so we might want to think about stepping into their shoes. Some prefer an intellectual approach. Others respond to a more emotional testimony. And others learn more from observing our actions than listening to our words. There are probably as many ways people hear the gospel proclaimed as there are people … or styles of shoes. Our natural tendency is to proclaim the gospel in a way that fits us most comfortably: “If I am touched by emotional stories, you must be too!” Sharing the gospel with someone in a way that does not speak them can be awkward and even painful. Just as we might check the weather before deciding on flip-flops or snow boots, we should take time to get to know someone rather than forcing an inappropriate (and ineffective!) style of witness on them.
We can each become a collector of “proclamation” footwear – it’s free, takes up no space in our closets, and the more we have the more we can spread the good news!
Comfort: Your favorite style is a good fit for lots of other people…
Challenge: … but not for everyone.
Prayer: Thank you God for the diversity of creation; help me to understand people as they are, rather than expecting them to be like me. Amen.
Discussion: What’s your favorite style of Gospel shoes to wear?
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