Sermon Redux is back this week and I am always glad to get back in the pulpit. To be honest preaching in the icing on the cake of ministry for me and so I enjoy it even when all else is not so good. Given my love for ancient history, this series has been particularly enjoyable because of the historical element of the passage that is built-in because of the reference to Roman armor. It has made this series one of the more enjoyable I have done in a long while from the standpoint of myself.
Paul continues to invoke the imagery of the Roman soldier’s armor and in some respects the Roman soldier’s attitude as a soldier. This is particularly true of the footwear. Roman soldiers footwear were not as you expect. There have no armor to protect the feet from damage at all. They look like sandals that have an overabundance of leather straps and they wrap up the calf as well. The purpose of the soldier footwear was to protect the sole of the foot from the ground. The overabundance of leather straps pretty much guaranteed that the sandal would not come off even in battle and the many miles of marching Roman legions often did. The sandals also had spikes on the bottom of them although this was more to make sure of their footing on grass than actually to stomp on anything although it could be used for that purpose. The Roman footwear was about mobility more than anything else.
Paul calls the Christian footwear the gospel of peace. The last word is interesting because the Romans had a saying about where ever the soldier’s feet were, there was the peace of Rome. I don’t think this correlation is an accident. Paul is basically saying that like the Roman soldier brings the peace of Rome wherever he marches, so to the Christian soldier brings the peace of Christ through the gospel. It is about marching and moving and spreading the Word of Christ to a lost and dying world. The Roman soldier had the attitude of being an instrument of peace against the forces of barbarism, so likewise should the Christian soldier view their role as bringing peace to the hearts, minds and spirits of men through the gospel of peace. Wherever we march we are about winning people over to God’s love and forgiveness and bring peace. Our war remember is not against people but against the forces of darkness that cloud people minds and judgment through sin and evil.
It is this distinction that does divided the Roman soldier from the Christian one. One ministered peace for society through force of arms, the other brings peace to the world by saving it through Christ.