Shoes for our feet

One of last words of Jesus were, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation" (Mk.16:15). The fact that Jesus said these words before His Ascension points out that they are of a big importance. What's more, Jesus tells this to His disciples in the imperative mood. And we also see that Paul counts this instruction to one of spiritual armour kinds, without which it would be really hard for every Christian to conquer his enemy and, thus, reach the final aim which Christ revealed to us - the New Jerusalem.

In his letter to Ephesians 6:15, Paul tells us to put on our feet the readiness to preach the Gospel of peace. In order to better understand what kind of armour it is, what its aim is and how to use it, let's take a look at what were shoes of a Roman warrior, whom Paul puts us as an example.

Shoes of a Roman warrior hadn't been simple shoes. They had been partially made out of copper or brass and had been combined of two parts: foot shield, which protected a shin, and sandals. These shoes were really dangerous for the opponent and in the same time comfortable for a Roman warrior. Shields for feet were made out of metal plates which were well worked up and didn't cause any discomfort. They covered a leg from pace to knee. Sandals were made out of two parts, a pace was covered with brass plates on up and on the bottom. The plates were knit together with stiff leather straps. To a sole, spines had been fixed, with a length from two to seven centimeters. And these sandals were fixed to feet very firmly and safely. With such shoes, a warrior felt really confidently. Such shoes looked like modern soccer shoes, which are boots and shields for shin protection. In such shoes, a soccer player feels himself confidently at any weather, and spines on a pace help him remain in balance even while running or different maneuvers. As a Roman warrior, a soccer player feels a solid ground and isn't worried that shoes may fall. It's very important because many Christians feel themselves confidently only at favorable conditions, but when devil's attack starts, they start to lose balance at once.

Paul tells us to attach the Gospel of peace to our life very tight, so that none of life situations would take away peace from us. That's why we should tightly fix the Gospel of peace and fasten it to our heart, to our mind, to our feelings in the same way as a warrior fixes his sandals to the foot. And only in case if we have sandals and they are tightly fixed, we may act, only then we may conquer long distances, fulfilling any task of our commander - Jesus.

I suggest that we take a more detailed look at what we are to take on as an armament. ‘The Gospel' in translation from Greek means ‘the good news'. Near five centuries before the coming of Jesus from Nazareth, Isaiah prophesied about the good times, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting so they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified." (Is. 61:1-3). From these lines we see that under the Good News Isaiah prophesies the revealing of humanity from the world power, i.e. from the law of the sin. But here is a condition which perfectly worked at times of Jesus. The Good News brought revealing and peace only to those who were thirsty for it, i.e. to all poor for the Redeemer. The main substance of the Good News may be described in three words: JESUS CHRIST RESURRECTED, that's why Jesus tells His disciples to spread the Gospel already after His Resurrection before He ascended to Heaven (Mk. 16:15). No doubt, Christ had to die in order to rise from the dead, and in order to die He had to get born and appear to the humanity. And only completeness of Christ's teaching, starting from the Day of His Birth till the Assumption, gives us possibility to use it as a weapon in completeness. No doubt, the coming of Jesus from Nazareth and His mercy, which acts through Him, is the best news, which a sinner may hear, for when he receives it, it makes him free and God's peace comes into his heart. And what may make devil even more disarmed than the fact that he loses people through which he could act? Practically, in this way transition from devil's military forces to military forces of God is taking place. That's why this type of armour is so dangerous for an enemy. That's why devil is opposing the most that the Gospel would be preached, and in all kinds of ways wants to interfere it, and if this doesn't come out, he does everything for It to be preached only partially. Or he tries to misinterpret the essence of the good news by providing a bit of truth and a bit of a lie. E.g. that Christ had really been born, but He can't be God, He was just a prophet.

In order for us to be able to perform the will of our Savior - to bring the Gospel of peace, we need to be enrooted in It, peace has to dwell in our hearts. For we can't give what we don't have ourselves, no-one needs bold theory; with only one theory a Roman warrior would conquer nothing, he would only fall dead at the beginning of the battle. Only when we listen to the Word of God and implement it into our lives, when we live the Gospel everyday, then God's peace would be in our hearts and we would be able to give it to those who need it.

Every Christian should perfectly know the main essence of the redeeming offering of Jesus on the cross, so that he should be ready to share it at every moment. Every Christian should be able to give testimony about the action of the living Jesus in his life at any circumstances. For as a Roman warrior didn't know where and when he might be sent for a battle, in the same way we don't know when our Savior would like to use us. If we wouldn't share with what God reveals to us, then we would be endangered with spiritual retirement. Since we are members of the Body of Christ, and as Christ acted through His body being on earth, in the same way He now wants to act through His Church, i.e. through us (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

Let's consider what kind of peace we receive when we accept Jesus' Gospel into our life. In the Holy Scripture, for description of peace a Hebrew word shalom is used, which has many meanings: to be perfect, unharmed, welfare, good relations among people etc. We will consider two the most important meanings, from which we receive everything we need for spiritual warfare.

The first one is peace with God, this is what a human feels when he or she comes to the Lord in search of salvation. This is a kind of peace which we receive through belief in Jesus Christ, Who by His death on the cross redeemed us from every curse and reconciled us with the Father, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand" "And through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach" (Rom. 5:1-2), (Col. 1:20-22). This is when the old man no longer lives, but the new one lives, which is born from above, when we don't live but Christ lives in us. The sign that our new person is in peace with God is God's covenant with us in the blood of Jesus Christ, "And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood." (Lk. 22:20). This is the same peace which had been lost after the fall of our forefathers, these are relations with God, which are renewed through forgiveness of sins. Though in the Old Testament peace had been established between God and a human many times, but it hadn't been complete, for there were no forgiveness of sins. This means that God is our ally, that God takes care of us as of his children, giving us everything the best. And as a peaceful covenant between the states gives them feeling of peace, in the same way a covenant with God gives us peace, however earthly alliances may change with time, and only covenant with God is firm and may not change, our Father is faithful to His every Word. Peace with God is a spiritual status, in which every Christian may be, it comes when a barrier between God and a human disappears. But in the same way as when one of the states violates the conditions of the peaceful contract, this contract loses its power, in the same way it is in our case when we violate the Law of God. But in the last case, God's mercy has no limit and our Lord is always open for the renewal of the contract (ally).

Parallel to peace with God, there is God's peace. You may have peace with God, but in the same time have no idea about God's peace. Many people have peace with God due to baptism, when they become new persons, but in the same time they aren't in God's peace, living in constant irritability, worry, sadness, dissatisfaction and sometimes even in anger with God. Very often it happens because we perceive only verses 20-22 from the first chapter of the letter to Colossians, but verse 23, "if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister", we forget. That's why presence of chaos and absence of peace not always show that enemy is attacking us, this may be because of the fact that we don't keep to principles of God's word, and in this way we violate the conditions of the alliance. That's why, before entering the battle, it's very important to look into the mirror and be honest with yourself and with God. Devil is not always the reason for absence of God's peace, very often we cause harm to ourselves. That's why it's very important to check ourselves: whether we have left space for devil in some part of our life.

"Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful" (Col. 3:14-15). When Christ's peace would dwell in our hearts, we would be able to use it as spiritual weapon, a powerful weapon, since bearing God's peace to people, we spread the Kingdom of God and accomplish the task, given by our Lord. But for this, we need to let God's peace establish the rules in our life, to let God's peace be a judge of our emotions and our decisions. If devil is using in his purposes the spheres of our mind which aren't yet renewed, then one day we may experience emotional rise, the other - fall. In order to avoid this, we should let God's word change our way of thinking, so that our thoughts would become like those which Jesus had. Then devil wouldn't be able to flatten us, he wouldn't be able to convince us that spreading God's peace is only priest's, pastor's, evangelist's or bishop's business, and our task is just to attend the Mass on Sunday, and rest of the time we may live for our own pleasure. Jesus tells this to His every disciple, i.e. to everyone of us He tells to go and make all peoples His disciples (Mt. 28:19).

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you" (Jn. 14:26-27). These verses tell us that God's peace may not be taken away from us, and what's more, Jesus says that His peace is different, that none of the circumstances may bowl us over, that God's shoes is a super-weapon. Also the Holy Spirit will remind us all words of our Redeemer, so that we could boldly preach the Gospel. But very often we have a too great hope for the Holy Spirit's action and forget that for Him to remind us Jesus' words, we need to have them saved in our mind, we need to have already heard the word of God, that we would everyday meditate upon it. Because in other case, the Holy Spirit would have nothing to remind us of.

In order to ones more highlight the importance of God's shoes, let's turn back to shoes of a Roman warrior. Shields for feet started from kneels and reached to the upper part of feet and were made out of copper or brass. The upper part of shoes had been very important for a warrior, it protected warrior's feet from damage and fractures during the battle. Any kind of damage would cause serious consequences, since all period of the battle a warrior spends on his feet, and if his foot would be damaged, then it's very likely that very soon he would lose his head. Very often commanders have sent their warriors for long distances and very often their journeys had been dangerous. They had to conquer rocky and thorny territories; warriors, who didn't have protection for their feet near shin, risked to receive serious damages. But brassy shield protected them from these damages, they could conquer the most complex territories without any scratches, cuts or bruises. In the same way our Commander may give us a task, which may be accomplished only by overcoming rocky and thorny territories, and if we wouldn't have God's peace at hand, then devil would damage our feet very quickly, and in this way he would make us unfit for a fight, what's more - he would be trying to beat us to death, since our death is his goal. And if it really had happened, there is no need to give up and stick to his rules of the game, we need to call our allies for help.

We always need to remember that devil would be trying to strike us into a shin and flatten us or break our leg. Only when we would start to believe in our healing, devil would be trying to persuade us with unbelief or to cause problems in other sphere. Only when you would start to feel financial crisis, devil would tell you: "See, you paid tithe, and now you need these money and church won't give them to you". But we always need to remember that God is our ally and He takes care of His allies, i.e. of us, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6-7).

A sole of a Roman warrior's sandals had been covered with spines which were very dangerous for an enemy; their length had been from two to seven centimeters. These spines gave a warrior possibility to make confident steps and not to slip on the surface. It had been very difficult to knock such a warrior out. He could also inflict a death-blow with a leg. God gives us supernatural peace, so that we could firmly stand the ground. Doesn't matter what we see or hear, we shouldn't be unmovable, we should firmly stand the ground, we shouldn't hand over positions until God's work would be done on the territory which we are standing for. Devil would even try to convince us that he had already knocked us out or inflicted us a wound into a shin, but we know that God's sandals firmly keep us, shin shields protect us from any kind of wound, and blows on this sphere can not cause a break. That's why it's only a feeling of a blow, deflected by us.

Till now, we have been talking about shoes mostly as about a defensive kind of armour, but it should also be used for an attack: "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet...." (Rom. 16:20). A word crush responds to a Greek word suntribo, which had been used to show a process of squashing vine to wine, and also to show such broken bones that they can not be put together anymore. Thus, from this verse we see that with sandals we may inflict devil with death-blows and that his place is under our feet. It's important to remember that the act of crushing and squashing of devil is possible only when we cooperate with God, we wouldn't be able to do it by ourselves. We need to remember that he is devil: once he had been an angel and, despite everything, has previous possibilities, for God's gifts are irrevocable. It is very important not to underestimate him. Christ has defeated satan on the cross, but our task is to stabilize victory in our life and tell others about their revealing from his authority. For when slavery had been cancelled and we know nothing about it, then we remain to be slaves.

In the first chapter of the Book of Joshua, we read how God gave the promissed land to children of Israel, wanting nothing in return. But in order to assume it, they had to go and walk the land which God had given to them. God told to Joshua: "Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses" (Josh. 1:3). But this land had been full of gentiles who were to be destroyed, with whom they had to struggle. God had already given victory to them, and they had only to take a step of faith, and they had done that, that's why they had taken the promissed land into posession. Very often we need to take a step of faith; probably, in our lives there're territories, through which we are defeated. These may be bad habits or personal problems. Every of these problems had been already solved on the cross. Now we only need to go and get the victory as Israeli people have done that, by taking the given land into posession.

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