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Fancy Footwork

Romans 10:13-15

When I was in elementary school the teachers tried very hard to give us a little culture. One of the ways that they tried was to make us memorize small parts or whole poems. We learned poems by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Shel Silverstein, Emily Dickinson, and Walt Whitman. You know 30 years later, there are some poems I have long forgotten, some of them I remember every line, and some of them I only remember bits and pieces. I am sure that if you have the chance to memorize poems in school, you share the same experience that I had.

I mention the poems because as I was reading our text for this morning I remembered the beginning to a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, entitled Paul Revere’s Ride. I am sure you have at least heard how it begins “Listen my children and you shall hear, Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere”.

Paul Revere is one of those characters in American History that is covered more in myth than in actual fact. For example we have all heard that on Paul Revere’s ride he warned the people by shouting, “The British are coming, The British are coming.” What a great story. Here you have a man who risked his life riding through the streets at midnight warning the people of the impending danger.

That story endears itself to us, because we all long to have someone who will help us out in times of difficulty and trial. We all long for someone to put their hand on our shoulder and say, “Be careful, it’s about to get pretty bad.”

Now I want you to think for a moment, what would you think about someone today who could help us out by warning us of upcoming danger? Or better yet, what if they could not only warn you of the upcoming danger, but they could help you avoid it. Would they endear themselves to you? Of course they would.

Ok look at the other side, what if you were the one who could help someone else? What if you could not only tell someone of upcoming danger, but also tell them how to avoid the pain, would you?

Well if you would then I want you listen today, because I believe that I can help you. Because I believe that’s what every child of God is called to do. If you will just glance thorough the Bible you will see that the message of Christ’s coming is on every page. Throughout the Old Testament you hear that: Someone is coming. In Gospels you can read: That Someone has come. In the Epistles we hear: Someone has not only come, but that He is coming again and we are called to tell everyone we know that Jesus is coming.

I am sure that you have heard the old fable about a conversation between God and his angels. Jesus had just risen from the dead and ascended into heaven. The angels were curious about this new thing that Jesus had died and risen from the dead to establish, the church. And they asked all kinds of questions about how God was going to get it started.

In the course of the conversation, it became obvious that the success of this new venture depended heavily upon the men that had walked with Jesus and had been His disciples.

One of the angels laughed and said “You’ve got to be kidding! It depends on these guys? These men are not well educated, they’re not particularly brave, they’ve been misfits and failures all their lives. And you’re telling us that these men are the key to whether the church survives or not. What happens if they fail? What’s plan B?”

And looking steadily at the angel, Jesus replied “There is no plan B. They are my only plan. Today I want to let you know that you are God’s only plan. You are the only plan to tell the folks you know that Jesus has come to save them from their sins and that He will come again to take His children home with Him.

Our text this morning is found in the book of Romans. It is just three verses, but it carries a lot punch. Look with me at our text that is found in Romans 10:13-15. (Read Text)

Paul makes it pretty clear that you and I are plan “A.” And there is no other plan. God has done His part in making salvation a possibility and now it’s our turn to do our part in spreading the message to others. In fact, He’s gone so far as to tell us that people cannot believe in Jesus if they’ve not heard of Him, from people like us. The salvation of others might just hinge on whether they hear about Jesus from us.

Essentially, that’s what Paul is saying “How can they believe in Jesus if they’ve not heard of Him thru us.” I hope that you understand the significance of the fact that God declares that the very feet of those who tell others about Jesus are beautiful.

Have any of you ever taken part in a “foot washing?” It is not something that we participate in very often.  In the youth group I grew up in the seniors would wash the feet of the in coming freshmen as a sign that they would not only serve us but teach us how to serve God. Now, you would automatically think that it was humbling to have to wash someone else’s feet, but if you have ever had your feet washed then you understand why Peter had such a hard time with Jesus washing his feet. I mean it’s just hard it is to take your shoes off. 

Some people say that it is because they are uncomfortable having you see or smell their feet. But there is another reason, and a bigger reason, we don’t think of our feet as pretty, let alone beautiful! It seems that the farther from the face we go the less attractive we believe we are.  But did you notice what God says: If you and I share the message of Jesus with others, even our feet are beautiful to Him.

I really believe that there are a few things that we need to understand if we are going to realize what God is thinking here.

First, Do you know that God believes in us?

God believes that we are capable of telling others about Jesus. He believes we are capable of telling others good news. He isn’t asking us to recite all the books of the Bible, or to give the theological implications of sanctification and justification. All we have to talk about is the good news. In other words, tell folks what has Jesus done for you.

The infamous skeptic, atheist, and enemy of the church, Fredrick Nietzsche once said: “Show me that you are redeemed, and I will believe in your Redeemer.” Now, I don’t know if he was being honest or not. But it is nonetheless true: If we can show others that it works, if we can tell others how Jesus has made a difference in our lives, then maybe they will believe.

Now I have heard the excuse 1,000 times: “But Jeremy, I’m not sure I could tell someone enough about Jesus to help them.” I believe that’s ok. But until you can find a way to tell others about what Jesus has done in your life, you might have to become a little inventive. You might have to find a “creative” way to share Jesus.

D.L. Moody told the story of a wealthy London banker who loved Jesus deeply but couldn’t tell others about his faith in a way that he felt was convincing. So, what he did instead, was hire all of the carriage drivers he could on the days of a Revival and then sent the drivers in while he held the reins of the horses.

So if you haven’t figured out yet how to talk to others yet you can still find a way to get the message to them, if you want to. Every member of this body has been smart enough to come up with reasons why we couldn’t or shouldn’t share the good news, now we just have to use some of that same reasoning to come up with ways to share the good news. We must be reminded that God believes you can do it.

Second, Do you know that you don’t have to do this alone?

Most of us are not afraid of hard work, or taking on difficult tasks we are just afraid that we will have to do it all by ourselves. Jesus tells us that the Spirit of God is working behind the scenes. When Jesus walked upon the earth, He said that, when the Spirit came, His job was to “…convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:” John 16:8

When you talk to others about Jesus, remember that the Holy Spirit has been softening them up well ahead of time. He’s been convicting them of their sins, He’s been convicting them of their need for righteousness, and He’s been convicting them, that there is time of judgment coming and they need to get ready.

It’s a wonderful thing to know that we are not alone. I truly believe that the reason we don’t share Christ like we should is because we are afraid that we are stuck on an island all by ourselves.  The comfort that we have, the promise that God has made to us, is that He will never leave us alone. That’s what God says in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” And if God says that He never leaves us, that includes the time we spend doing His will.

As we close today I want to mention one more thought about why I believe that God uses the imagery of feet here in Romans 10. Have you ever wondered what’s so significant about our feet? I mean, it’s not our feet that tells about Jesus, that would be our head and our mouth. But I believe that there is three very good reasons why God talked our feet in this passage.  

First, Many people talk a good talk but they don’t walk a good walk.

The message has no power, if the messenger doesn’t walk with Jesus. If a person talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk, well we have a special name for them. What do we call people who talk a good talk, but don’t walk the walk? Hypocrites! We’ve got to walk the walk for our talk to have any impact.

You cannot tell people about the Prince of Peace if your life is lived in constant turmoil.

You cannot share the forgiveness offered by Christ, if you are hard, cold, and calloused.

And you cannot tell people about the Joy of the Lord, is you are the most miserable person they know.  

If we are going to be taken seriously then our walk must reflect our talk. How serious do you take an insurance salesman who doesn’t use his own company?  How seriously do you take a Grocery Story Manager who shops at another store?  How seriously would someone take you if your life does not reflect what you claim to believe?

Secondly, It is my feet that determine my direction.

I can turn my head to the left or the right and still go straight ahead, and I’ve seen some of you drive looking out the side window of your cars so I know I am not alone. The direction of my head doesn’t determine where I’m going.  But once my feet are set on a path, that’s where I’m going. My feet determine what direction I’m going in.

When you ask one of our high school students what they want to be when they grow up, you might get a well though out answer, or they might just as well tell you, “I don’t know.”

That’s because they have never set a goal. They know that they can do anything so they are still trying to figure out what direction they want to take. They have not set out on a path yet. But, eventually they will make up their mind, some sooner than later, and once that becomes the focus of what they want to do they’ll pursue that goal no matter what the obstacle, no matter what barrier they might face. Why? Because once their feet are set on the path, they can attain their goal.

Likewise, if our feet are set on the path of sharing with others about Jesus if that is truly the goal that is set in our hearts, then we’ll strain for that objective no matter what barrier or objection or obstacle we may face.

Lastly, Feet are personal!

I can’t send my feet somewhere that I can’t go myself. I have to go where my feet go. Notice, God doesn’t say: “How beautiful is the tract that you hand out” even though tracts may be very effective.

Or “How beautiful is the door hanger that you leave” though those door hangers might influence some people.  

Or “How beautiful is the bible that you put in the coat you gave to the needy”, even though I believe that a Bible is one the best gifts you can give someone.

What God does say is “How beautiful are your feet.” What does that mean? It means that people are won to Christ because we are willing to be where they are.

A couple of years ago Newsweek had an article on Religion and Street Gangs. They interviewed a Pentecostal preacher named Rivers. When he first moved into this neighborhood, Rivers sought out a local drug dealer named Selvin... and that drug dealer gave Rivers a lesson in why God was losing to gangs in the battle for the souls of inner city kids.  

“Selvin explained, ‘I’m there when Johnny goes out for a loaf of bread for Mama. I’m there, you’re not. I win, you lose, It’s all about being there.’”

When Jesus sought to save mankind, He walked with them.  He walked with the prostitutes and the tax collectors and the dregs of society because they were the ones that would best understand the need for His message. He spent time with them. He didn’t join in with their sinful behavior, but He showed His love for them in being with them. And today that’s still the only way to show you care.

 

 

Questions To Consider

 

What is the gospel?

 

What is evangelism?

 

If God is in control, then why do we need to share the gospel?

 

No amount of study, prayer, or worship will make up for a lack of evangelism in our lives. Why is evangelism so important to our walk with Christ?

 

Read a few passages:

 

            Matthew 28:18-20 (The What)

            Acts 1:8 (The Where)

            1 John 1:1-4 (The Why)

 

What do these verses tell us that we should be engaged in?

 

How do these passages apply to you personally?

 



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