Feet That Preach
The year was 1984. We were in the quaint little village of Oberammergau for the 350 year anniversary of their famous Passion Play. You may have never heard of Oberammergau, but it is an unbelievably picturesque little village tucked away in the foothills of the Alps in the state of Bavaria. Practically all the homes in the village are made of warm white stucco with roofs of Terracotta colored tile. Adding to their beauty is the significant number of them that are enhanced with opulently painted facades. Such murals are permanently applied to wet, freshly laid plaster. The paintings often depict florals around their windows, or figures from fairy tales, or religious characters, particularly involving figures of saints. Absolutely beautiful!
As our tour bus was entering the old historical part of the village, I was so taken with the artistry and uniqueness of the of the various buildings in the area, I asked the bus driver to stop and let me off so I could capture those breathtaking images on my camera. I was literally running from house, to restaurant, to inn in an effort to photograph as many as I could before catching up with the group on our tour. I’m quite sure that even the casual passerby could have observed me in my pursuit and been immediately aware of what I was trying to accomplish. No explanation necessary
Sure enough, soon after we returned home, a coworker at our relatively small company asked if that was me they had seen running around in Oberammergau, taking pictures of those beautifully unique buildings. My immediate thoughts were, “Good grief! Is there no place on earth where we are unobserved?”.What are the odds of being thousands of miles from home, at a specific locale in a remote village on another continent at the exact same time as a familiar coworker? Looking back, I was thankful I had not taken leave from my conscience and moral ethics—thankful I was not doing something for which I would live to regret. I suppose I’ll never forget that ‘chance’ meeting. It will always serve to remind me of the fact that someone is always watching us.
As unlikely as that singular incident may seem, such ‘chance’ meetings are not nearly as rare as we would like to think. Thinking back, I can readily remember a number of ‘chance’ meetings I have had. And, I would venture that all of us could recall similar incidents. That being the case, we should all realize the fact that there is no safe place on earth where we can go to do our ‘smokin, drinkin, and cussin’. Someone will always be watching. When we are tempted to engage in some covert sin (and we surely will be) the devil is an unbelievably adept concierge—he can make it happen! And he will always whisper in our ear, “No one will ever know”. The devil also uses another catch phrase, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”. Not true! Absolutely not true! Both are lies straight from the devil himself! ! Let’s not kid ourselves, our covert acts are not nearly as covert as he would lead us to believe. And then when we misstep, we can rest assured that the news will travel fast. The same devil that says, “No one will ever know” is also the one that will make sure that everyone knows!
We can also be assured that everyone who knows us has heard our talk. They have all heard heard us profess our Christianity. They have heard us avow our love for God. Now they’re watching to see if our walk matches our talk. In today’s vernacular, they are watching to see ‘how we roll’. They want to know ‘how we roll’ whether on the mountain tops or the deep valleys of life. They watch to see how we react to the good times as well as the bad times. They are watching to see how we deal with the trials and stresses in our lives. They will be watching to see if we actually ‘take our burdens to the Lord and leave them there’. They are taking note of our tendency to be either arrogant or humble, both in our successes and in our failures. They will be watching to see how we treat all with whom we come in contact; whether friends or strangers, whether popular or down trodden; whether rich or poor. They are watching to see how we handle our finances—are we generous or miserly; are we industrious or slackers in the workplace? They are watching to see how we handle the truth. Are we always honest in all our dealings. They will be watching us during the so-called ‘chance meetings’ when we think ‘nobody will see’. In all such cases, no explanation is necessary—our actions have already spoken loud and clear. A dear preacher friend of mine has told me that his main desire in life is to teach his children how to live and also how to die when the time comes. He is teaching them by his actions rather than his words. In so doing he is also teaching all those who know him the same lessons. I would venture that nearly everyone in the world patterns their lives after someone who they hold in high regard.
Thus, when all the evidence is in, I will guarantee that we will be judged by the sermons we preach with our feet rather than the sermons we preach with our tongues. And sadly, in many cases our lost friends are turned off by the sermons we preach with our feet. And, in many such cases, they don’t choose to be associated with all the ‘hypocrites’ in our churches. “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1 NASB),” If I am correctly interpreting that Scripture, that ‘great cloud of witnesses’ would not only include our relatives, our friends, our neighbors, our coworkers, but also many other casual acquaintances. Oddly enough, that great cloud of witnesses often includes people we don’t even know.
The Mark Trammel gospel quartet has released a hit song,“Your walk talks / and your talk talks / but your walk talks louder than your talk talks”. So very true!