Thornleigh Seventh-day Adventist Church (Sydney, Australia)

Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 69 - Spring (Sep-Nov 2021) > Of Socks and Shoes (by Erica Green)

Of Socks and Shoes

How Relevant is your Christianity? (by Erica Green)

I came across this little story on the web a few months ago entitled "Socks and Shoes".  I have no idea whether it is true or not, but I am not really concerned so much about that, as it stands alone as an illustrative story.  It really got me to thinking and I would like to share it with you here, as is, straight from the web, and then I will tell you, where my thoughts took me.  

The story is told of "a little boy, about 10 years, old was standing before a shoe store on the roadway, barefooted, peering through the window, and shivering with cold. A lady approached the boy and said, "My little fellow, why are you looking so earnestly in that window?"

"I was asking God to give me a pair of shoes," was the boy's reply. The lady took him by the hand and went into the store and asked the clerk to get half a dozen pairs of socks for the boy. She then asked if he could give her a basin of water and a towel. He quickly brought them to her. She took the little fellow to the back part of the store and, removing her gloves, knelt down, washed his little feet, and dried them with a towel.

By this time the clerk had returned with the socks. Placing a pair upon the boy's feet, she purchased him a pair of shoes. She tied up the remaining pairs of socks and gave them to him. She patted him on the head and said, "No doubt, my little fellow, you feel more comfortable now?"

As she turned to go, the astonished lad caught her by the hand, and looking up in her face, with tears in his eyes, answered the question with these words: "Are you God's Wife?"

Well there are definitely worse people to be mistaken for, but what an honour it would be to be misidentified thus.

I don't know whether you noticed the same thing that I did in this story.  I really picked up on the similarity to the Christian church's service of foot washing. 

This service really only has a level of relevance within the cultural context and the four walls of our church "club".  But here, in this story, we have been shown a modern day, practical application of the selfless love of Jesus, who washed the feet of the Twelve Apostles at the Last Supper (John 13:1-15). 

It is vital for individual Christians, and churches as a whole, to understand what their relevance is outside of the "club" walls.  Without this, we are just another society with a theoretical understanding of an ancient religion or of a set of traditional fables.  May I suggest that it is only the practical application of our understanding of God which gives Christianity and a church relevance?  This practical application serves to answer the question of "so what", on the lips of modern society, about Christianity.

I am not saying that to be culturally relevant in today's world that Christianity or the church has to conform or bend itself to the world.  I am, in fact, suggesting the opposite.  We have something to offer that is quite different to the world's view. The principles of the Kingdom of God turn this world's view on its head, in all possible ways.  We could quote a plethora of bible texts to illustrate these differences, but it all comes down to contrasting the world view of selfishness vs the Christian view of selfless love. 

All of the ills of this world originate with selfishness, and this planet and its inhabitants are being overwhelmed by the impact. Not one of us has remained untouched.  Can you begin to imagine our world, where everyone lived a selfless life? Well, this was exactly how our world was originally designed to be and how it can be in the future.

This is precisely how Christianity becomes relevant to our modern society, both in the present and for the future.   "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."  (Romans 12:21,NIV) Whatever we can do, in the here and now, to promote selflessness above selfishness, is a foretaste of things to come when Jesus returns to restore his Kingdom, built on those principles of selfless love.   "See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind." (Isaiah 65:17,NIV)  We have a hope for the future but we can also have a little taste of it now through the selfless actions of committed Christians.  

Having said that, there is a type of Christianity that is particularly not relevant.  That is the judgemental and hypocritical kind.  Over the years, Christianity has developed a real image problem, predominantly because so many of us Christians are so unlike Christ.  A person who is obviously evil is dangerous, but far more dangerous is someone who appears to be good but does evil things. The image of Christianity is in far more danger from the latter.  

Like in this little story, as we go about our day to day interactions, who would people identify us with? As Christians we would hope that we would be identified as one of His disciples.  "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:35, NIV)

So, how can we represent the principle of selfless love to our community? How can we make Christianity relevant in our community?  One simple suggestion is to always be on the lookout for situations where God can use us to promote selflessness over selfishness. 

In summary, I would like to ask a questions and give out a challenge.

"Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." (1 John 4:11-12, NIV)

What a privilege it is be an instrument of God.

Home > Online Magazine > Online Magazine: Edition 69 - Spring (Sep-Nov 2021) > Of Socks and Shoes (by Erica Green)