By Collin Ross
Roman sandals, made from a leather sole and straps, could be worn for marching or fighting, and were embedded with materials for enhanced traction. Roman soldiers may have worn studded boots instead of sandals. These durable shoes communicate not only a readiness to carry the gospel forth, but also to communicate the peace the gospel brings.
When I lived in Colorado, it seemed like everyone I knew was into rock climbing. The first time I tried to scale a rock wall with some friends, I wore my regular tennis shoes. Needless to say, it was a very challenging experience. It didn’t matter if I employed proper technique, my feet kept slipping off the rock. When I finally gave it another try, I borrowed a pair of climbing shoes, and I immediately felt the difference. My feet easily gripped the rock wall, and I was able to do things that would have been impossible in the average tennis shoe.
We’re always looking for a secure footing in life. Whether we’re being rocked back and forth by the waves of circumstance or we’re about to take a big step into the unknown, we long for the peace that comes only with the knowledge that we are standing on a firm foundation.
With all that he has endured, Paul knows the need for secure footing more than most. He’s writing from a place of wisdom acquired through firsthand experience as he urges Christians to equip themselves with the sandals of the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15). The gospel of peace alone can provide the firm foundation that we seek.
Paul has in mind the beautiful poem in Isaiah 52. The poem details how, after Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians and thousands were carted away into exile, there remained in the city a small community of Israelites. You can imagine the terror and uncertainty that they must have felt in the smoldering ruin of their home. Jerusalem was the place where God was meant to reign forever, and now it was destroyed. Could their lives get any bleaker?
But just then, a watchman on the wall alerts the people to a messenger running towards the city, yelling at the top of his lungs that there is reason for hope. Isaiah puts it this way: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the herald, who proclaims peace, who brings news of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” (Isaiah 52:7). God was giving His people a secure footing even in the midst of terrible circumstances. What is that secure footing that He gives? It is the good news—the gospel.
The good news that Jesus is victorious over sin and death provides the peace we are looking for in an unstable world. The gospel of peace has the power to steady us no matter what comes our way, because it tells us that we’re never alone. We can always trust that our God is with us, because when we were at our worst, He sent Jesus to bring us peace.
We’ll never be certain about what tomorrow has in store for us, but we can rest in secure peace as we are carried along the road of life by the gospel of Jesus Christ.