‘…and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.’
Apparently, Alexander the Great was very innovative when it came to army footwear. He introduced studded sandals which helped his soldiers to stand, march great distances and fight great battles.
Stable and mobile
The footwear of Ephesians 6 speaks of stability and mobility. Jesus said the wise person digs down deep and builds on his word. It’s about being secure, resolute, assured, rooted and grounded, not easily shaken, not quickly wavering and changing ground: ‘I used to believe that, now I believe this.’ The word, ‘stand’ is repeated three times in this passage. We need to be stable. When Martin Luther was challenged on his teaching about the gospel he made the famous statement, ‘Here I stand. I can do no other.’ He knew where he stood.
‘By our breathless chase after relevance without a matching commitment to faithfulness, we have become not only unfaithful but irrelevant; by our determined efforts to redefine ourselves in ways that are more compelling to the modern world than are faithful to Christ, we have lost not only our identity but our authority and our relevance. Our crying need is to be faithful as well as relevant.’
– Os Guinness, Prophetic Untimeliness: A Challenge to the Idol of Relevance
What he’s saying is this: We need to stand on the ground that’s vital to who we are. By trying hard to be relevant we can lose our footing without realising it. Then we don’t know quite where we should be standing. This puts us in danger of becoming unfaithful because we’ve lost the uniqueness that makes us relevant. The rock under our feet is solid and we need to stand on it.
Shoes also speak to us of mobility. We’re rooted, yes, but we’re not stuck in yesterday’s battles. Alexander the Great was victorious because his armies could move swiftly. In the Falklands war, the marines and parachute regiment covered ninety kilometres in three days carrying 80lb packs! They called it ‘Yomping’ and their speed of movement was one of the reasons that they did so well. They moved fast.
God said to Joshua, ‘See, I have given you this city.’ The next phrase always stirs me. It reads, ‘So Joshua marched all night.’ He didn’t say, ‘Oh, well. God has given the city to us so we can take our time seizing it.’ His attitude was, ‘Let’s go!’ His army moved. They marched all night. They were mobile. Before the enemy knew what was happening, Joshua was on them. The five enemy kings hid in a cave. When Joshua brought them out he said to the young men in his army, ‘Put your feet on their necks.’
There’s something strong about this footwork, this confidence, this assurance, this ability to move into a situation, bang your foot down and declare, ‘This is who we are.’ There’s a changing ground of conflict through the centuries. I don’t want to be fighting battles of 300 years ago. There are big battles today. We stand on Biblical truth, so get the shoes on your feet. Be relevant, strong and clear.
This post was adapted from the 2nd of three sermons on the Armour of God preached at Together on a Mission 2010