Last week we looked at the Breastplate of Righteousness. Like Roman armor of the first century, the Breastplate of Righteousness protects the vital organs. But like the Roman version, righteousness doesn’t keep you completely safe. It’s not a cure all piece. We are still vulnerable to attack, but the righteousness we have in Christ is a bulwark where we can be assured that, while we will be attacked, we won’t be overcome.
Today we take a look at shoes. The shoes of the 1st Century Roman soldiers were called Caligae, and they were actually considered boots, despite the exposed nature of the feet. They were made with thicker leather than sandals; the soles were made up of multiple layers of leather to increase protection. Between the layers, and projecting out from the bottom of the soles, were nails. These had two uses, both important. The nails provided additional traction on the battlefield, which provided an advantage of leverage and stability not found in most of their enemies shoes. Additionally, these nails were used as a weapon. I’m certain there’s no need to further expound on this. The forethought and preparation was a tactical advantage.
As Christians, we are told, “…And having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace” (Ephesians 6:15, NASB). The sentence seems awkward. “Preparation of the Gospel of Peace?” What does that even mean? I’d like to offer up one possible explanation.
We can, generally, understand the meaning of “Gospel of Peace.” For the Gospel of Christ is the Gospel of Peace. Paul had set the stage for us earlier in the letter, “for he himself is our peace…” (Ephesians 2:14, ESV). We understand that the good news (Gospel) is that, through Jesus’s death and resurrection, we have access to the “throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16, ESV). We understand that this access is provided for all who will receive Him! That is definitely good news.
The Gospel of Peace provides protection for us. Wherever our lives take us, wherever our feet are found, His Gospel has provided peace for us. We can walk and dwell securely, knowing that we can be content in whatever situation we find ourselves in. His peace is there to strengthen and protect us. “…I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13, ESV). We can be assured that we stand securely; our faith in Christ provides the greatest traction.
The shoes are the first offensive piece of gear listed in Ephesians 6. And, if you weren’t aware of the shoes the Roman soldiers wore, you would probably miss some things in this part of the text. Our enemy wants to keep everyone from receiving the Salvation that is so freely offered in Jesus. The Gospel is our weapon to plunder the devil’s kingdom. We most effectively fight when we share the good news with others. But in order to do so effectively, we need to prepare! “The preparation of the Gospel of Peace,” is making sure that we are secure in our faith and ready at all times to tell others why we believe in Jesus. “In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15, ESV).
Spend some mindful time this Monday to examine your armor. Are your feet properly attired? Do they only protect, or are they prepared to go on the offensive as well?