By Anthony Casperson
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been playing a video game—that shall remain unnamed for reasons that will become clear shortly. In general, I’ve had fun playing it. But my biggest complaint is that it has extremely long load times between areas—at least two minutes every time. And that includes when the new area is the inside of a character’s home where you only have to go in for a single conversation and exit again, triggering another loading screen. (I know it’s not the biggest problem in the world. But when you have limited time to play, every second is important.)
One thing that understanding this issue has taught me is to always have everything ready before I’m about to enter a new area. Does everybody have the right weapon in hand? Are the party members in the right formation? Did I put the party into stealth mode so that enemies placed near the entrance don’t automatically trigger a fight?
There’s a need to be ready before a situation arises. Then, I can face the circumstances from the best possible direction.
Readiness is important when we think about warfare as well. Soldiers march for miles in full gear, in case of ambush. There’s not really time to strap on the armor at the beginning of a battle. And the enemy usually isn’t kind toward unprepared opponents.
There are considerations of strategy and tactics. Often, where the battle is fielded plays a role in an army’s plan. Even leaning into the adversaries’ weaknesses while utilizing your own strengths is preferred.
And this idea of always being ready in warfare is just as important in the spiritual variety. And it might sound a little odd, considering the piece of the armor of God that we’re looking at today: the footwear strapped on with the gospel of peace from Ephesians 6:15.
There’s a bit more to this part of the armor than most of the others. It’s not just written as “the (armor piece) of (Christian virtue).” Therefore, this part has a few layers to look at beyond just a simple glance at what truth or righteousness are.
We see that the armor piece is the action of tying, or binding, something onto our feet. That something begins with the idea of readiness or preparedness. A readiness to proclaim the good news of the gospel. The gospel of the risen Savior who brings us peace.
The concept of readiness is a major part of this armor piece that’s often neglected when people talk about this. But it really shouldn’t be, since Jesus points to it after the resurrection when he tells his followers the reason why we’re still in this world. These words are from Matthew 28:18-20, also known as the Great Commission.
Making disciples of all nations is the part that we often remember. We even sometimes keep in mind the section that tells us to baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and to teach them to observe Jesus’ commands. But we often forget the importance of the word before all of this.
Jesus tells them to do those things as they go. Wherever. Whenever. As we go about our daily lives, we’re called to make disciples, baptize, and teach to observe his commands. That means, by necessity, that we need to always be ready to proclaim the good news of Jesus. There is no down time or vacation day away from this command.
And if we take the perspective of warfare, Jesus also directs our minds to this readiness in Matthew 16:15-18. This is the passage where Jesus uses wordplay with Peter’s name—and its connection with the Greek word for rock—to explain this truly holy war. Jesus builds his Church upon the truth that he’s the Christ, the Son of the living God. And the gates of hell won’t stand against this truth.
Remember, that gates are used by the defending side. This means that we followers of Jesus are to take the active role in invading the realm of sin and death. And an important part of invading is going. Marching. Into enemy territory.
Thus, the footwear reveals its importance in our spiritual war as the reason that moves us into the places we go. The proclamation of the good news of Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection should literally drives us as we go.
But it’s not a battle for the gospel to be proven as the victor. That fight already happened when Jesus sacrificed himself and God raised him from the dead. Rather, this spiritual battle is to bring peace. Hence the reason why Paul calls it the gospel of peace.
In the passage known as the Suffering Servant, the prophet Isaiah speaks to the peace of the gospel in Isaiah 53:5. He says that upon the Servant—the Messiah, Jesus—was the chastisement that brought us peace. Shalom.
The gospel has always been for the purpose of returning us to the wholeness of relationship with God. Peace, not just as a ceasing of conflict with God, but also as a return to wholeness.
And one other interesting aspect of shalom that I noticed in the research for this blog comes from Deuteronomy 25:15. There, the word is used to describe a “complete” measure. A standard of weight used that shouldn’t cheat anyone. Nothing missing at all. But even more so, a measure that keeps the peace, because there’s nothing to fight over. So, we can see that the gospel which we bring with us as we go is never meant to cheat anyone out of the goodness of life.
It is God’s divine command that we should go into the realm of the sin and darkness, ready to proclaim the truth of the gospel anytime and anywhere, so that we can show others the complete life that we were designed for.
That makes the application of this part of the armor quite easy to find. Get ready. Go. And proclaim the peace brought about because of the gospel. Be completely ready because we have no idea what’s going to be on the other side of the loading screen.
^Yeah, it's supposed to be that way. ^