Christians In Bare Feet

Published 10:38 am Saturday, July 29, 2023

By Michael J. Brooks

It was a simple “aside” during midweek Bible study when I asked attendees how the congregation might react the following Sunday if I asked everyone to take off their shoes in reverence to God, as Moses did at Horeb.

A comedian spoke up first, asking for advanced warning so he wouldn’t wear socks with holes and be embarrassed.

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I’d mentioned in the lesson that taking off one’s shoes was more an oriental and Mideastern practice rather than an American one, but then had the thought about how it might be received at our church. I mused that everyone would probably do it in obedience to their pastor. But as I pondered this in the days following, the more I concluded that removing one’s shoes might be an outward act, but meaningless if not coupled with a heart attuned to God.

Of course, this is always an occupational hazard in Christian living. Outward expressions are meaningful but must be connected to obedient lives.

I thought of Jesus chiding the Pharisees, telling them they looked good on the outside since they followed all the rules, but their hearts were far from God (Matthew 23:25). And the prophet Jeremiah delivered his inaugural sermon at the Jerusalem temple, telling worshippers that though they were in a holy place, their lives were filled with rebellion against God (Jeremiah 7).

Thus, if I’d asked everyone to remove their shoes, it might’ve been a memorable event, but not necessarily a life-changing one.

Coincidently I’d read Jen Hatmaker’s’ “Simple and Free” lately in which she argues for decluttering our lives from stuff and sharing our bounty with others.

Hatmaker told of her experience one Easter evening when she and her husband visited a local church. The pastor was committed to the shelter where the homeless needed shoes. He explained that they were on their feet all day and most often had cast-off shoes that didn’t give foot or leg support. The pastor said no one was under compulsion, but if they felt compelled, they would leave their shoes and socks at the table when they came forward for communion. He said they would wash the socks and deliver shoes and socks to the shelter the next day.

Hatmaker said she and her husband were wearing cowboy boots they’d given each other for Christmas—their favorite shoes as Texans! But they left church barefooted that night after giving a costly gift to needy people.

We live in a culture awash in materialism. Giving of our treasure to help the abused, the sick and the prisoner is one way to demonstrate that we’re not simply going through the motions of righteous acts, but that our hearts are surrendered to God.

“Reflections” is a weekly faith column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church, Alabaster, Alabama. The church’s website is siluriabaptist.com.