During wartime, soldiers at the battlefront sleep with their shoes on. Should the need arise, they are ready to spring to their feet and swing into action immediately. A soldier who does not have his shoes on will waste valuable moments searching for them, and then, in his haste to put them on, might not secure them properly. This could cost him his life, as well as the lives of others.
In the battle that we fight—against creatures that are not of flesh and blood—it is souls that we have to save. To be able to do this, we need our shoes on at all times: our Gospel Shoes. This is, very simply, the Word of God. To be able to live it and to take it to others, travelling over long distances and over different types of terrain.
It is an embarrassing fact that most Christians— especially Catholics—don’t know the Word of God. Other than a few parables that we learned as children, and perhaps some scattered knowledge of the miracles that Jesus performed, we know little else. Consequently, far from having “our feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace,” we walk around barefoot and within moments are sitting by the wayside nursing our aching, swollen feet. The enemy doesn’t even bother giving us a second glance; he knows we pose no threat to him.
We have to know the Word of God. We have to read it, meditate upon it, study it, understand it and finally preach it. It all takes time and one should not be unduly hasty. Like any pair of shoes, the Gospel Shoes first need to be broken in and this can be done only by wearing them for a while until they become comfortable. It is a foolish person who sets out on a long walk wearing a pair of brand new shoes.
Once the shoes are broken in, the long walks become obligatory. We are required to walk for great distances, living our lives the way God asks us to live them. There is no danger of the shoes wearing out because, unlike regular shoes, these get stronger and more comfortable with use, and quickly become like a second skin. When this happens, the confidence that we get is tremendous. No longer do we feel like running away from life or from the troubles it brings; on the contrary we are eager to meet them because the Gospel Shoes give us that ability. We also obtain peace, because the gospel is a gospel of peace.
If you were to ask me what I consider to be the most precious benefit that I obtained by becoming a Christian, I would say that it is this peace; a peace that is pretty much synonymous with Jesus, and a peace that He himself gives to us.
For he is our peace ... (Ephesians 2:14)
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. (John 14:27)
It took me a long while to achieve this peace, largely due to the unceasing efforts of the enemy to trip me up, but attain it I did. And when I attained it, I found it to be a peace that transcended all understanding, just as the gospel promised (Philippians 4:7). It is also extremely liberating, and it frees us, like few things can, of the chains that tie us down to the world.
Once we have achieved this peace, it becomes almost natural to want to give it to others. And we can tell a true Christian by the manner in which he does so. If we see a man walking in peace among his brothers, spreading the Word of God with love, we will know that the Gospel Shoes that he wears is a perfect fit. If, however, we come across a man who cannot live in amity with his brothers, and is always engaged in doctrinal or theological conflict, you can be certain that he is wearing the wrong shoes.
It doesn’t take much doing to spread the gospel of peace. As it says in Proverbs 16:7, “When the ways of people please the Lord, he causes even their enemies to be at peace with them. ” This is, however, not a universal truth. Very often we will come across people whose hearts are so hard, they aren’t interested in peace. Scripture is very clear on what we are supposed to do in such cases.
As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. (Matthew 10:12-13)
And finally, there is one more thing you can do with your Gospel Shoes. On your journeys you will often come across the enemy who will try to harass you. The feet are a weapon too. Kick him!