Roughly paraphrased, those were the words of my pastor last Sunday as he preached on the Gospel according to Redback - a well known Australian company that makes some top quality boots. However, the purpose of this little story was not to promote the sales of said boot-making company, but to demonstrate a very important spiritual truth regarding our walk with God. So today, I decided to share and expand on this analogy a bit, so bear with me.
We all know how frustrating it can be to leave the comfy confines of our warm house, on a winter morning to go trudging through the wet - or even frozen grass (perhaps snow...anybody?) only to find that those shoes into which you inserted your feet and your trust for the purpose of keeping warm have betrayed you. The cold outside has found its way inside your shoe, has seeped through your favourite socks and is tormenting the soles of your feet. And what caused such a betrayal? Either there is a decent size hole in the sole of your shoe that has gone unnoticed and unmended, in which case it might be time to get your eyes checked, but more likely, the seams between the sole of the shoe and the rest of the toe have gradually stretched and become slightly less water-tight from the time you first bought the shoe.
Consequently, your shoes are no longer filling the purpose of protecting your feet from the elements as you travel on your journey to the mailbox, or washing line, or wherever it was you were going on that winter morning. The solution to this problem? Your shoes need to be taken care of more appropriately, they need to be water-proofed with wax or polish or in some way maintained so that they retain their water-tight quality. So, I imagine you may already know where this analogy is going, but how does this common plight of the morning trudger apply to our spiritual walk as believers?
Much like Christian in John Bunyan's classic "The Pilgrim's Progress", we are all on a long, and at times challenging spiritual journey from the time we are saved to the time we are with the Lord in eternity. And that journey can be made unnecessarily uncomfortable if we don't maintain and water-proof the 'shoes' of our Christian faith.
And what are the 'shoes' of our faith? Well, according to Ephesians 6:15, our 'shoes' are the gospel of peace, and they are an important part of our spiritual armour, as it is with the gospel message that we were endowed when we were saved. It is this gospel that protects us from the chilling effect that the world's thought patterns has on our faith. It is this gospel or 'good news' that encourages us on our journey; it is a gospel of peace - it 'keeps our feet warm' - as it were.
But just as new shoes inevitably wear out or lose their water-tight quality over time if they are not maintained, so does the gospel message. As we become familiar with the gospel message, we can tend to lose the wonder of the cross, and what Jesus did for us, and as horrible as that sounds, I have, at times, found myself with a 'leaky' gospel that I've neglected out of sheer familiarity.
So how can we avoid becoming familiar with the Gospel, and more importantly, how do we maintain this Gospel so it remains powerful and active in our spiritual walk as a witness to others? In short, it is only by God's revelation and empowerment to act that the Gospel can become fully activated and dynamic in our lives. As Paul said to Timothy, 'Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith: Christ was revealed in a human body and vindicated by the Spirit. He was seen by angels and announced to the nations. He was believed throughout the world and taken to heaven in glory,' (1 Timothy 3:16).
This Gospel message is a mystery that only God's Spirit can reveal and gradually unpack into our lives, and that requires faith and devotion on our part. But what does faith and devotion look like? Again let's look at Paul and Timothy. Paul encouraged Timothy to focus on reading and teaching the scriptures, and to develop his spiritual gift (4:13-14) - and not only did he encourage him, he said to 'Throw yourself into your tasks' (v. 15).
In other words, we need to continue pursuing God so that the outworking of the Gospel becomes more active and visible in our lives. It is this pursuit and reliance upon God that provides the wax with which we can protect our 'shoes of the gospel of peace' from wearing out and becoming ineffective. By seeking the God of all Creation for the answers and personal application to the mysteries that are buried in the Gospel, we will never lose the wonder for what Christ did for us on the cross.
Not only will our 'shoes' protect us from the cold and wet fallacies that torment our foundational beliefs regarding the Gospel as we trudge through the frigid winters of our journey, but our 'shoes of the gospel of peace' will also be a witness to those who have not heard...
"As it is written: 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things,'" (Romans 10:15).
Blaine Packer is studying a Bachelor of Cross-cultural Ministry at Worldview Centre for Intercultural Studies in Launceston, Tasmania.
Blaine Packer's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/blaine-packer.html