Wednesday, March 9, 2005

God's Total Body Workout -- The Feet

Here are some of my favorite bumper stickers:
· Your kid may be an honors student, but you’re still an idiot.
· I brake for no apparent reason.
· Forget about World Peace. Visualize using your turn signal.
· He who laughs last, thinks slowest.
· Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math.
· Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
· I love cats...they taste just like chicken.
· The more people I meet, the more I like my dog.
· Sometimes I wake up grumpy; other times I let him sleep.
· Work is for people who don’t know how to fish.
· Hard work pays off in the future. But laziness pays off right now.
· It’s lonely at the top, but you eat better.
· Always remember you’re unique, just like everyone else.
· There are 3 kinds of people: those who can count & those who can’t.
· Why is “abbreviation” such a long word?
· Ever stop to think and forget to start again?

Some bumper stickers are funny, some are informative, some make you think, others make you mad. In any case they can be a reflection of the direction in which the person is traveling in life. When it comes to bumper stickers, the words on the outside of a car are often an indicator of who's on the inside of the car. In the same way, the words that come out of our mouths can be an indicator of where we are headed in life.

What we say and where we are going are connected. From the Bible’s perspective, when it comes to our spiritual health, our feet are connected with the mouth and the heart. Consider these words from the Apostle Paul:

Romans 10:9-15 (New Living Translation)
For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who believes in him will not be disappointed.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They all have the same Lord, who generously gives his riches to all who ask for them. For “Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
The world needs our feet. I’m surprised I’m even writing this to you because I think feet are disgusting. I definitely have a foot hang up–a piece of information that’s probably more than you needed to know about me. I can think of several words to describe these floppy appendages on the ends of my legs. The words ugly, hairy, smelly and grungy are a few that I would choose.

But despite their flaws, the world needs our feet.

Our feet can carry us to the grieving, hurting, needy, lonely, and friendless – to the blind, the prisoners, the poor and oppressed, and those who do not know Jesus Christ. Our feet bring us into contact with those who need to know how God’s grace and our faith can make a difference in life. The world needs our feet.

Here’s my problem: I don’t want to my feet to bring me into contact with friendless, the blind, the prisoners, the poor and oppressed, and those who do not know Jesus Christ. I would rather have my feet bring me to my comfy chair so I can relax while I read a good book. I would rather have my feet bring me somewhere where I don’t have to think about the pain and suffering in the world. Life is easier if I let me feet lead me to places where I can deny the reality that there are people perishing without Christ.

And anyway, if I were to go to the suffering and poor in spirit, I wouldn’t know what to do. I wouldn’t know what to say. How is little ol’ me going to make a difference? And there’s another problem -- the term “congregational evangelist” sounds like an oxymoron. Maybe we should let the Baptists, Nazarenes and Pentacostals put the gospel shoes on their feet.

On the other hand, people are not always going to automatically call on God. Someone needs to go and someone needs to talk. In fact, not just anyone–WE need to go. As Isaiah says:

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” (Isaiah 52:7 7, NIV)

Did you get that? God can take these obscene feet of ours and make them beautiful! It’s important to understand that in Biblical times they didn’t have email or fax machines or phones. So in order for leaders to relay messages to their hearers they sent messengers. Often times the messenger would travel by foot for miles to get the message to his hearer.

Does Trumbull Congregational Church and/or the UCC make distinctive claims about Christian faith? If so, what are they? What are these articles of faith important for others to hear?

Who are the people who need to hear and respond to our unique witness? Where do we have to go to meet them?

Look up these verses. What do they have to say about the relationship between our feet and our hearts?

Proverbs 6:16-19

Psalm 44:18

John 8:12, 11:19

2 Corinthians 5:7

Matthew 9:1-6

The ancient Greek myth of Phidippides serves as an example. In 490 B.C. Persia's fleet of 600 ships loomed off the Greek Shores not far from Athens. According to legend, the general of the Athenian troops sent his fastest runner, Phidippides to ask for help from Sparta. Phidippides ran for two days and two nights to reach Sparta, about 140 miles away. He gave the message to the Spartans. The Spartans agreed to send troops, but not until after their religious festival was completed in nine days. Phidippides ran back to Athens, but the general couldn’t wait that long, so he ordered his troops to advance on the Persians. The Persians were no match for the Athenians and 6,400 Persians were slain. The general then ordered Phidippides back to Marathon to spread the good news. The distance between marathon and Athens was approximately 25 miles. Phidippides made the distance and managed to gasp the word “Rejoice!’ before he collapsed and died. The first marathon was completed.

You can imagine what people would be thinking when word got out that a messenger was bringing word to them? Their hearts would pound not knowing if the news was going to be tragic or good. When the news was good the messenger became the most popular person around. People would say the messenger’s feet were beautiful. The word “beautiful” in this context does not mean “lovely in appearance” — thank goodness. It means “in time” or “timely.” It was as if the people were saying, “your feet brought you just when I needed to hear something good.”

There are people all around us in desperate need of some Good News. They are going through a trying time. They don’t need to hear you say, “Suck it up” or “Hang in there” or “Come to our church and hear a good sermon.” They need to hear Good News. From YOU! Jesus loves us and cares for us. Sin and death are defeated, and we can be right with God. And as hard as it is to take the first step, I love it when I hear someone say, “Your feet brought you just when I needed to hear something good.” Where our feet bring us shows the condition of our heart. That’s why The Bible’s Total Body Workout exercises our feet for spiritual health. How you walk and where you walk to is an indication of how your relationship with Christ is going.

What is the Good News? If you had to summaraize the Gospel, what points would you include?

Indeed, our heart, feet, and mouth are all connected. Our heart gives us the will to go. Our feet respond and bring us. And our mouths speak the Good News. An active heart leads to an active mouth, which also shows itself in active feet. And active feet are beautiful to God—when they are active for Him! Or, to put it another way, look at the words of another bumper sticker:

Dance With Your Heart and Your Feet Will Follow!
When is the last time someone said to you, “Your feet are Beautiful”? What are you doing to bring Good News to the people around you in your daily life?

I must admit, I am not always proud of where my feet take me. At times, my feet and I have chosen the path not lit by the Word of God. I also suspect I have not always been in the position of passionately listening at the Savior's feet. Nor have I always humbled myself to others, failing to “wash their feet” with love and service. Notwithstanding, my prayer is that Isaiah’s words will one day describe me:
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’”
I would be thrilled if my future epitaph read,
“Matt Braddock: a man with beautiful feet.”
For the story of Phiddipides, see

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