Beautiful Feet

Romans 10: 11-15 How Beautiful Are The Feet... October 7, 2018


All of us are here because someone told us about Jesus. But chances are, they didn’t just tell us. They showed us. Paul is encouraging us to be the kind of people who show others the good news of Jesus too.


11 The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him. 13 For, “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? 15 And how can men preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!”


Fall is basketball season here and, I suspect, almost everywhere. I grew up in the state of Indiana where basketball is almost a religion. I can remember shoveling snow off drive-ways so we could play in the winter. John Wooden is one of the most legendary basketball coaches. While at UCLA from 1948 to 1972, he led UCLA to ten NCAA championships.

Most people know about Wooden. But few people know that before coming to UCLA, he was the basketball coach at my alma mater: Indiana State University.

Wooden had a very unique way to approach the beginning of each season. On the first day of practice he would gather all the players together and show them the proper way to put on their shoes and socks – that’s right – how to wear shoes and socks. He knew that blisters could throw off a players game, so he made sure they knew the right way to care for their feet. In fact, his wife would take all the socks and wash them at home. She used fabric softener, so they were as comfortable as they could be.

We wouldn’t think feet would be the topic of his first talk – or even a sermon, for that matter - but, Wooden knew feet were important. Often we only notice how important something is when it is broken. Like the Buddhist monk who said, “When I have a toothache, I discover that not having a toothache is a wonderful thing.” So, when playing basketball, it is wonderful to know how to avoid blisters!


But playing basketball is one thing and sharing the gospel is something else, right? I mean we can see why having beautiful feet is important for basketball, but what does it mean when Paul says that in Romans? “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

We might expect Paul to say, “How beautiful are the mouths of those who speak good news.” Or, “How beautiful are the faces of those who share the gospel.” Or even, “How beautiful are the words” Paul says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news.”

Why do you think Paul says that? Seems pretty clear really. If we are going to share the gospel, it’s probably going to involve some shoe leather. It’s not enough to know the good news. We have to deliver it.

It’s like the difference between reading music on a page and playing it. Knowing musical theory is impressive but playing a Bach concerto is something else altogether.

“How beautiful are the feet…” It’s the difference between thinking about doing something and actually doing it. It’s about delivery. It isn’t enough to know the good news, it’s the delivery of the good news that makes all the difference. You see, the gospel is more than words. The gospel is actually bringing the good news of God’s salvation to the people who need it. Talking about grace and love and acceptance on Sunday mornings is good, it is healing, and hopeful, but until we can sing it so people can hear it, our faith is just dots on a page.

Saint Francis once said, “Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.” The poet, Edgar Guest, said it another way: “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day.”


Of course, the Apostle Paul would know that. Paul traveled far and wide sharing the gospel. After Christ first appeared to Paul around the year 37, Paul began sharing the news of Jesus and establishing churches everywhere he went. He made three long round-trip journeys along the Mediterranean Sea. His fourth trip to Rome, where he was martyred, was over 2,000 miles. The total miles Paul traveled in his ministry, were anywhere from 10,000 to 14,000. Mind you, this was when there were no planes, trains or automobiles.

From that time on, being a missionary meant a person who was willing to put in some miles. Between them all, the disciples traveled some 100,000 miles. In the 20th century, the famous doctor and missionary, Albert Schweitzer traveled a few hundred thousand miles as he traveled between and United States and Europe to help the poor in the deepest of Africa. And, many of you might not recognize the name, Sheldon Jackson. But 100 years ago, everyone knew who that was. Sheldon Jackson was a 19th Century Presbyterian missionary. Jackson traveled all over the country advocating for Native Americans. He eventually settled in Sitka, Alaska, where he almost single-handed saved thousands of Aleut Eskimos. The real irony is when he applied to be a missionary, the Presbyterian Board of Missions, turned him down because they didn’t think he was strong enough. By the end of his life, when he had traveled over a million miles – then, they saw things differently.


So, you see, it isn’t enough for us to know the gospel. We need to take it to the places where people need to hear it. Many of you have done that. I can think of Bonnie Jones and Joyce Carter who went to India, Grace Dennis went to Haiti and a dozen adults and youth from our church went to Harrisburg, and all of us did this to share something of the gospel where people needed to hear it.


The good news is we don’t have to go as far as Alaska, or India, or Haiti or even Harrisburg to share the gospel. We don’t have to look far to find people – there are people we know right now – who need to know they are forgiven, loved, and accepted. We can go half way around the world to deliver that message - God knows there are places that need it - but we can also share that news by walking halfway down the block or just a little ways across our living room.

It isn’t enough to know about it, we need to deliver it.

The truth is we don’t really know WHAT we believe - until we live it. The author, and Lutheran radio show host, Garrison Keillor once said, “We can no more become a Christian by just coming to worship on Sunday than we can become a car by sleeping in our garage.”

You see, one of the reasons we talk about our faith is not to convince other people it is true, but to help us define how it is true for us. Just the act of saying what we believe may do more to change us than it will change others. The more we say what we believe, and do what we say, the more the gospel will change us and bless the world. “How will people know about Christ?” asks Paul, “unless someone is willing to listen and the only way they will listen is if someone is willing to talk” Expressing our faith. Putting it into words and living it out in actions, that is much of what it means to be a missionary.

There is a story I heard about what happens when we arrive in heaven. According to the story, when we finally go to heaven, Jesus will be the first to greet us - not St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, it will be Jesus. Jesus will come us to us and say, “How good it is to finally see you: face-to-face. I know you have labored hard. Let me take care of you.” Then, he will invite us to sit down. He will take our feet into his hands and gently and lovingly wash them.


Now, I don’t about you, but when we finally do make it to heaven and Jesus finally does take off our shoes, wouldn’t it be good for Jesus to look at our feet and see how they have been used to spread his gospel? We don’t want to appear before Jesus with feet that have NO dirt on them. We don’t want to come before Jesus with church feet. We want to have feet that have been out in the world sharing the good news. We want them to be dirty and scarred and used. We want feet that have run the good race and have walked the extra mile. We want Jesus to see feet which have been used. We want Jesus to look at our feet and say to us, “How beautiful are the feet which shared the gospel.” But, more exactly, we hope he will say, “How beautiful are these feet which shared the gospel.”



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