How beautiful are the feet of him who brings good news!
Therefore my people will know my name;
therefore in that day they will know
that it is I who foretold it.
Yes, it is I.”
How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”
Listen! Your watchmen
lift up their voices;
together they shout for joy.
When the Lord returns to Zion,
they will see it with their own eyes.
Isaiah 52:6-8 NIV
I thought of runners and feet this week. Feet aren't very pretty when you think about it. Runners feet take quite a beating. Their feet aren't all that pretty and sometimes very smelly. Thankfully, with all of the wonderful engineered shoes today, runners' feet are treated much better than in Paul's day. It was worse for them since they ran either barefoot or in sandals with no support. Nonetheless, feet are being highly praised with encouragement to the runners they carry!
The Apostle Paul, when addressing the Roman church, used the analogy of running in several passages. Running was common for sending messages quickly, for that time, to another destination. Running was also a part of competition in the arenas of that culture, similar to the Greek Olympic running competitions. Their races were a tribute to their Roman gods. They often ran nude or with loin cloths to reduce anything that caused problems with running. Some even ran with armor weighting 50-60 pounds! This showed the tough endurance of those who ran in battle. Can you imagine? Running with a 10-20 pounds weight vest is tough enough.Sometimes they stumbled unable to get up. Runners would often cut each other off causing one of the competitors to stumble thus disqualifying them. Sometimes runners would get tired and give up, also earning disqualification. Possibly runners, who were part of the church, took Paul's letters to the various churches awaiting the messages he had for them. This helped early Christians grasp the message more clearly.
In Romans 10:14-16, Paul reiterates Isaiah's words from Isaiah 52:6-8 . The "runners' feet" were swift to bring the good news of Jesus' salvation for them.Someone sent them with this message. He said their feet were beautiful. If you ever received wonderful news from someone, certainly you can understand how dirty, smelly feet can suddenly become absolutely beautiful. Those who share the good news of salvation are being highly praised!
Now consider a relay race with a baton being passed on to another runner waiting ready to continue the distance. That stick or cylinder represented a message rolled up to be passed onto another runner who would continue the race to the next runner for longer distances than one runner could handle. One message from one sender, yet several runners sent with recipients waiting for the message. The analogy Paul used helps us today consider how we receive the good news God sent, then we continue to pass it on to someone waiting, sharing it.However, some will not receive it because they don't want it. Can you imagine someone not wanting salvation? There are those who will turn it down flatly. "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved, it is the power of God."(I Corinthians 1:18)
The imagery of running in a race to obtain an eternal prize instead of the laurel crown- a crown of leaves- is the endurance believers must have living the Christian life
(1 Corinthians 9:24-25). The leaves would dry up and the crown fall apart. But the Crown of Life will last forever! Those runners worked hard to train for their event,as we must continue our training, learning and growing in our faith. Some give up. It certainly isn't easy because it goes against the grain of society. False teachers and nay-sayers purposely cut in on us tripping us up by questioning why we even bother to believe in Christ and live out His teaching. It's much like running with armor on in the heat of a spiritual battle. The Galatian church allowed this to happen (Galatians 5:7) Paul questioned whether his message was given to them in vain as if running to a destination with no one willing to receive the Message he brought to them (Galatians 2:2)! A lot of opposition comes from different directions threatening to trip us up as we carry it on.
However, we are called to get rid of those things that weight us down and the sin that threatens to tangle us up. It's a long, hard race we run. We are told to keep our eyes on Jesus, considering what He did for us so that we don't get tired and give up.Although we run as individuals, we also run as a team. The other competitors on our team is the body of Christ, the Church. There is a heavenly audience cheering us on and a reward which lasts forever. Our team mates are there for us in our church family. Our feet are beautiful as we go out sharing the Good News of Salvation as we live out your faith (Matthew 28:18-20). Run! Run well with those beautiful feet! May God bless you!