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Friday, July 7, 2023

Shoeless Worship


By Hope Ellen Rapson

“…Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up”. When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!”

And he said, “Here I am.”

The He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said also, “I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”

Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.”
Gen. 3:1-9 (ESV)

In many cultures, it is a sign of respect, humility, and honor to remove one’s shoes or at least to ask the host or hostess what their preference might be, before entering their home. Moses belonged to one of these cultures. His religious life reflected traditional practices. Then, when he found himself in the very presence of Almighty God, the Lord gave him these instructions.

First, Moses had to present himself as other, and lesser, than God. Second, he had to fully recognize whose Presence he was entering. Third, Moses had to honor, submit, and worship, not a tradition, but the living Creator and Sustainer of all.

Moses was a prince, a skillful shepherd, a businessman, and a family leader in Midian. His successes and status perhaps gave him a sense of exalted self-importance. This had to be counted as nothing in the presence of Almighty God. It had to be set aside with his shoes.

C.S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity that pride is the ‘anti-God’ state, the position in which the ego and the self are directly opposed to God. “Shoeless Worship” is the position in which the ego and self are discounted and surrendered to glorify God. It is easy and common to attend church services with our ego-shoes on, and neglect to humbly recognize why we are there and Who we have come to meet.

In her poem “Aurora Leigh,” Elizabeth Barrett Browning expressed it this way:

Earth’s crammed with heaven;

And every common bush afire with God,

But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.

The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries,

And daub their natural faces unaware.

Let us not “sit, and pluck, and daub” unaware or ignoring God who deserves our “shoeless worship.”

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