Ruin The Shoes (Rev. 3:7-13)
Sometimes we need a little encouragement to keep going. The first century A.D. church of Philadelphia, in what is now western Turkey, needed that kind of encouragement. They were a people who had embraced the redeeming work of the risen Jesus and had been joyfully sharing the good news with others. Sometimes their hearers were open and hungry for the truth – doors seemed wide open to their message; other times, the Good News was seen as an offense and doors were slammed in their faces. It could be discouraging.
Jesus speaks a few words to His followers who find themselves in similar shoes: “These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name… Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God.”
Jesus gives each of us on planet earth the opportunity to embrace Him; some do and some don’t. That choice God respects. But the choice does come with its related consequences – the relationship of cause-and-effect is a reality that applies to more than our material world. It is universal in the spiritual realm.
When we reject Him, considering ourselves atheists, agnostics, humanists or any other label, spoken or not, excluding Jesus from being Lord of our lives, we are making a choice. We are stepping through a doorway that ushers us into a defined direction; the cause directs the effect. Our beliefs lead our feet step by step toward a Godless existence. It’s what some people want.
The other option is to accept Jesus and all that entails. It means leaving behind our natural tendencies toward the pleasures of selfishness and pride, much as we’re attached to them in their socially acceptable forms, and walking, stumbling or limping through a door flung wide for us. It’s the challenge every true follower of Jesus struggles with daily: overcoming the temptation to cling to the old ways where our own plans and paths take precedence over His.
I heard a story on the radio the other day. Max, the caller, was describing his experience of visiting Haida Gwaii, Canada’s westcoast grouping of islands inhabited by first nations people. He was being driven to his destination when his chauffeur asked him if he wanted to see the ‘most beautiful park in the world’. Given the affirmative, the driver took a detour from the highway, drove a few minutes along an uneven dirt road, and stopped at a log-barred trailhead. Heavy clouds overhead began to release a drizzle of rain as the two well-dressed men stepped out of the car.
Looking uncertainly at his chauffeur’s fine leather shoes, Max asked, “Do you really want to ruin your shoes?”
Without a moment’s hesitation the chauffeur replied, “What a place to ruin shoes!”
Much as we are prone to enjoy the pleasures of this material life, there comes a time when each of us must decide if it’s the shoes we care more for or the destination. Our finely crafted footwear will be ruined if we go the distance through the doorway Jesus has opened. The mud and drizzle appear daunting when our eyes are fixed on our feet. The limo looks so inviting on those days. But if we choose to lift our eyes toward Him, the Lover of our souls, overcome this moment’s temptation to turn back, and take today’s steps on the Jesus-path, He will give us strength. Don’t give up. There’s a crown waiting. We’re pillars being sculpted. We’ve got more in our sights than a comfortably chauffeured ride to a barren hotel. We’re heading to a place that’s out of this world for beauty, and we want nothing holding us back. Let’s ruin the shoes on this journey.
(Photo Credit: David Hitchman)