Do you ever struggle with comparing yourself with others? Being jealous of someone else’s ability, gifts, or prominence? Do you ever look at others and critically think, “If I were in their shoes, I would certainly not do it like that…”? (There’s only one right answer here.)
I call this the “curse of comparison” or the ” sin of projection.” We have all been guilty of it. But sometimes we don’t know how deeply entrenched these ungodly mindsets are.
Last weekend I had a very meaningful God-encounter during a public worship service. As I worshipped I suddenly saw before my mind’s eye a village church scene I had encountered while doing missionary work among a church planting movement back in 2010.
As I worshipped, I began to look back and remember what I had seen on that day in the Himalayas. It was a day of prayer, worship, and training among a formerly unreached people group. After the meeting, the believers were filing out of the church and putting their shoes/sandals on before departing.
What really touched me was when three blind men came out. These guys are faithful and fruitful evangelists. They came out and began “feeling” for their sandals. They used their feet and toes to touch several pairs of shoes until they found their own. They knew the feel of them. It was quite incredible to watch. Their humility coupled with dexterity was profound.
Here is what I sensed the Lord saying to me last weekend as I remembered these things during the time of worship.
1. We each must learn to humbly recognize, embrace, and walk in our own shoes.
2. Our “shoes” represent how God has uniquely fit us to carry out His calling in the church and the world.
3. We need to stop comparing ourselves to others and stop projecting our own shoes upon others!
But another picture followed. It was one of Jesus taking off the sandals of His disciples and washing their feet. Peter said, “No, Lord.” And Jesus told him, “Unless you let me do this you can have no part with Me.” This really touched and challenged my heart. Unless we let him regularly remove our shoes and reduce us to our real status of being objects of mercy, He cannot really trust us to represent Him to others! Here are some other thoughts I had:
1. My relationship with Christ must be based upon His mercy and grace….and not my own giftedness (or perceived lack of giftedness.)
2. I must be willing to not only have Jesus remove my shoes, but to humbly submit to every other believer in the same way.
3. When we come before our Lord, we must always take our shoes OFF. The holier the ground, the more our shoes are NOT appropriate. Selah.
4. We must not relate to God based upon our ministries and any perceived success or lack of success.
5. We must not primarily relate to one another based upon our unique callings and giftings. We must all be willing to relate to Christ and one another as equal heirs of His grace.
It is true that after we have spent time with Jesus that He always sends us back out into the world. And there are various offices and levels of authority in the church that need to be recognized. This means we must put on the shoes He has fitted for us and give honor to what this means as we organize to fulfill His mandate as the people of God.
All of this should remind us to NOT fall into the trap of comparing our gifts and abilities with others. Furthermore, we must walk in the shoes He’s given us and not sit back and expect others to do our job for us!
There are enough armchair quarterbacks in the church. We need an army of people who passionately understand the Lord’s mercy, who are blind to worldly definitions of prominence and success, and who are willing to manifest the gospel of peace through shoes properly fitted.