In Ephesians 6:15, Paul next instructs us to have our “feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace”. Footwear is meant to protect our feet (our foundation), give us stability in order to stand, and improve our mobility. One meaning of this phrase is that we are to have a readiness to share the “good news” of redemption, as Paul exhorts in 2nd Timothy 4:2: “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.” This means when we feel ‘spiritual’ and when we don’t. Like God’s provision for Israel during the 40 years in the wilderness (Deuteronomy 8:4), these shoes of peace are also meant to last. After all, it is struggle and strife that cause friction and wearing, not peace!
Spiritually, we ‘stand’ because of the gospel – the verified, unchangeable fact that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and resurrected on the third day in fulfillment of the Scriptures (1st Corinthians 15:3,4). This is the alternative meaning of “the preparation of the gospel of peace”. It is precisely because believers have received this “good news” of salvation and are at peace with God that prepares them for battle and the Lord’s work. Believing in Christ’s atoning sacrifice on our behalf (with resulting repentance) is the occurrence at salvation which gives us peace WITH God, since we are no longer in rebellion against Him.
The knowledge that, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1) gives stability and strength to the Christian’s walk. However, peace with God is only one ‘shoe’. We also receive the peace OF God as we set our mind on the Spirit. (Romans 8:6) and yield to His working in our life, which is sanctification (Galatians 5:22). If we only wear the one shoe (salvation), our spiritual ‘walk’ will be unbalanced and uneven, hindered and slowed, and the other foot will be exposed to injury and in danger of slipping. It takes both feet in order to walk, shifting the weight from the back foot to the front. Even though you receive peace from God for yourself at salvation (back foot), if you are not obediently “walk(ing) by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16), you will not be able to deliver the peace God wants to impart through you to share with others (front foot).
Now the shoes cannot be too tight or else the walk would be painful and arduous, increasing the awareness of your own efforts. These are shoes of legalism. Conversely, shoes of liberalism are too loose – rubbing blisters, causing calluses, injury, and lost skin. God fits each of His children with the shoes that are the proper size. Your shoes are neither too big, more than you can handle (1st Corinthians 10:13), nor too small, unable to meet your need (Philippians 4:19). Also, the footwear God provides is always the proper kind for each task He calls us to perform. No doubt when we’re involved in spiritual planting and harvesting, we’re equipped with spiritual work boots. And when we’re engaged in spiritual mountain climbing, God’s word proclaims: “He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me on my high places.” (2nd Samuel 22:34; Habakkuk 3:19) Even though deer don’t wear shoes, the point is God provides whatever our feet need in order to get us where He wants us to go. Paul likens our Christian faith to running a race (1st Corinthians 9:24), which requires athletic shoes. Whatever the spiritual task, we can trust the footwear God provides will be tailor-made to accomplish it.
This analogy is not to imply we can change the gospel to suit ourselves, for God’s word is unchangeable truth (1st Peter 1:25)! What is suggested, though, is the variety of methods and styles of delivery God uses to get His word out. So, no matter what form the foot gear is in – whether heavy and sturdy for work, or balanced and light-weight for running, or even ballet slippers for dancing before the Lord – they remain the “shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace”. And, as with every other piece of our spiritual armor, the gospel of peace that we both preach and wear is Jesus. He Himself is the “Good News” (John 3:16); in fact, His name in Hebrew – Yehowshua – means “Jehovah saves”. Furthermore, “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:13,14).