“And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace…”
Every Christian knows we are supposed to put on the armor of God. All usually put on some, but most do not do a great job of it. Most Christians have some righteousness, some truth, some faith, some prayer, and some use of the Word of God. I believe the part of the armor in which Christians are most lacking is having our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. We all know that the preparation of the Gospel of peace is taking the Gospel, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ to others. It is put on our feet because we have to GO to do it.
We would all agree that EVERY Christian should have the breastplate of righteousness, his loins girt about with truth, the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith, etc. If that is true, then every Christian should have his feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. If we are going to be what God wants us to be in the army of God, we must have on the whole armor and that includes our feet being shod.
Let’s say you just signed up for the military. You are getting ready to be given your army issue clothing. Now picture this: you are standing there in your skivvies, and they give you your brown t-shirts, uncomfortable brown underwear, scratchy green wool socks, and BDU’s (battle dress uniforms). Later they give you a Kevlar helmet and a flak vest to hopefully stop bullets. They give you your TA-50 (all your gear used on field exercises). You have all your gear and you are saying… “Where are my boots?” Then they tell you that they are not issuing you any boots. You are incredulous and say, “WHAT? You mean to tell me I am going to be a barefoot soldier?” And they tell you, “Yes!”
Being a barefoot soldier will affect you in many ways. It will hurt when you walk. You cannot go very fast and you have to walk softly all the time. Your feet are unprotected and will be hurt very easily. You cannot carry anything heavy, and you are thinking about yourself constantly.
All those things are exactly what happen in the Christian army when you do not have your feet shod with the Gospel of peace. You are a barefoot soldier in God’s army. What kind of a soldier would a man be in Iraq or Afghanistan if he were barefoot? Would he be able to help? No, he would not, and he would even be a hindrance to the other soldiers. Let me explain what happens in the Christian life when we are barefoot, when we do not have our feet shod with the Gospel, or simply put, when we are not soul winners.
The first thing we see is that it hurts when you walk. Walking is one of the simplest things you can do. A child learns to walk at about one year old. Once they learn how to walk, they start getting around well. We have Christians that have been saved for decades still having a hard time walking because they are not soul winners. The things in the Christian life that are meant to be simple, that we should be able to do without even thinking, are hard. If a person is not a soul winner, the simplest act of walking is difficult. Reading our Bible, praying, and getting to church are now hard to do. A soul winner does not have a hard time reading the Bible. He needs to find verses to help him answer someone’s questions, or to help his convert grow. A soul winner does not have as hard a time praying, because he has to pray for the new babies in Christ. When a Christian is a barefoot soldier, it is hard to even walk and do the simple routines of the Christian life.
The second thing about a barefoot soldier is he can’t move fast. Good strong soul-winning churches are busy. There is always much going on. There are preaching services, conferences, campaigns, bus ministries, Sunday schools, revivals, missions’ conferences, and many other things happening. A person that does not have his shoes on cannot travel very fast. He will not be able to keep up, and he will leave for a church that is not so busy.
The third thing about a barefoot soldier is he has to walk softly all the time. He has lost all boldness. He cannot stomp or step hard. He cannot go where he has not gone before. He cannot help start a new ministry. He is fearful of everything new or something he has not done in the Christian life because he has not been there. He does not have any shoes.
The next thing about a barefoot soldier is his feet and toes are unprotected and can be hurt easily. How many times has someone in the church had his feelings hurt because the preacher or someone else stepped on his toes? He was offended. God tells us that if we love the Law of God, nothing will offend us. Yet, these people are always so easily offended. When you step on a person’s toes who is a soul winner, it does not hurt. Why? BECAUSE HE REALIZES IT IS NOT ABOUT HIM. There is a bigger cause. It is about Jesus Christ and the souls of men. He realizes the mission is bigger than his feelings. There are souls out there hanging in the balance. Who are we thinking about if we do not have our shoes on? Ourselves! Every Christian is at his worst when he is thinking about himself and is at his best when he is thinking about Christ and others.
The last thing about a barefoot soldier is he cannot carry anything heavy. If he cannot carry his own weight, he cannot carry extra gear. He cannot carry a wounded soldier out of harm’s way. A Christian that is not a soul winner is the same way. You cannot count on him to carry his weight. He cannot pick up someone and help him. He cannot teach a class, or run a bus, or lead a department. Again, he is just thinking about himself. Those are some of the things that can happen to you if you do not have your boots on.
There is something else that is very interesting about our shoes.
God says we are supposed to be SHOD. To be shod means that our shoes are to be nailed on. Many people that go soul winning only do it at certain set times. They put their shoes on for soul winning night and take them off the rest of the week. That is not what God says. To be shod, the shoes need to be NAILED THROUGH the hoof, and they cannot be taken off. When I was in the army and we were out in the field, not knowing what could come next, they would always say “SLEEP WITH YOUR BOOTS ON.” What does that mean? Always be ready to go. A soul winner should always be looking for souls. Most soul winners are only flip-flop Christians. They slip them on and then slip them off.
After a horse has worn a shoe for a while, it can wear down and he can throw a shoe. When that happens, the horse needs to be re-shod. That can also happen to a Christian. There are things in our life that can cause us to throw a shoe. When that happens, we just get re-shod. An all-night prayer time with God, a good Soul-Winning Clinic, Pastor’s School, or listening to Dr. Jack Hyles preaching about “Duty” or “Fresh Oil” will always help a soul winner get re-shod.
The big question that is asked is, “What if a horse (or a Christian) will not take a shoe?” Many times you will have a strong-willed horse that does not want to be shod. What does the farmer or the horse trainer do? The horse is “strongly encouraged” to take the shoe. There is a device called a twitch, sometimes called a twister. It looks like a club with a circle chain on the end. They take the soft pat of the nose, put it through the chain and twist it. They twist it hard enough that the horse does not care what you do to his foot anymore. The farmer or horse trainer realizes that if the horse does not take the shoe, his goof will wear down into the quick, and it will limp or go lame and no one will be able to ride it. The horse will be good for nothing.
Also, if the horse gets too much food, it will founder and the horse will be good for nothing. It is also true with Christians. Most church members will just eat and be fed with preaching without doing the work. They will also go lame and will not be profitable. This is in the best interest of the horse and Christian to take the shoe.
Sometimes people in our churches will say that the preacher is putting a lot of pressure on the people to go soul winning. They even say he is “Twisting their arm” trying to make them go. That is better than the alternative. Some people will say after a strong sermon on soul winning, “Wow, the preacher sure ripped our faces off.” That is just about true. There are stubborn church members that do not understand they need to be shod or be a soul winner. A preacher should apply pressure to help the members do the most important mission of a Christian. The Christian should also understand that it is for his own good.
As a child, I grew up in church and never heard one word about soul winning. I drifted far away from God and my family. In the army, I was in a good soul-winning church. I did not like the church because of the hard preaching, however, the Spirit of God living in me loved it, and I kept coming back. I heard the preacher say that we knew how to go to Heaven and many outside of our church did not. He told us we needed to tell them how to be saved. It sounded so simple, and I made a decision that night to be a soul winner. I would not have kept my commitment except every Sunday night, the preacher would have everyone stand who went soul winning in the last week. Then he would have everyone stand who was going soul winning the next week. That was pressure! I did not like it, but I stood each week and went out mostly because of the pressure. Later, I learned to love soul winning and have been doing it consistently for over eighteen years. I needed the pressure to put on the shoes.
When I put on my first pair of jump boots at Ft. Benning, Georgia, they were uncomfortable, and I did not like them. They were stiff, and I could not walk very well. They even caused some blisters. After I wore them for a while, they became the most comfortable shoes in my closet. They literally became more comfortable than my Nike running shoes because of the strength and support they gave.
Keep going soul winning, and you will find the same thing will happen. First, put on the shoes and become a soul winner. Then make sure they are nailed on and look for souls all the time. If you have thrown a shoe and use to be a soul winner, then get re-shod. Also, do not become upset at the preacher for trying to make you to take a shoe. It is for your own good. And lastly, once you go soul winning for awhile, it will be one of the most exciting and most comfortable things you will ever do.
by Pastor David Baker