Bait 3: Shoes
Tom Hanks’ endearing portrayal of Forrest Gump (1994) found a way to marry profundity and humor in a way no cinematic character has been able to achieve before or since. Gump was always clear but never direct. He was always serious and yet always jovial. Perhaps this paradoxical consistency is seen most vividly when he tells a women that he likes her shoes. Forrest concluded that, “you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes.”
Though Forrest’s missiological understanding is up for debate, the truth of his words ring into the boundaries of each of our mission fields. Do you take note of people’s shoes? Jesus did. In Matthew 16, a rich young man approaches Jesus. Instructively, Jesus speaks to him as a rich young man, not with a impersonal missional reflex. Jesus did not have a stock presentation of the gospel. He first looked at a person and gained understanding about them. You might say that he took a look at their shoes.
This practice of seeing a person as they were never led Christ to value a particular person over another, but it always led him to connect with that person on their level. He knew this rich young man needed a different word than the women caught in adultery (John 8:2-11) or the women at the well (John 4:1-45). Jesus had an uncanny ability to customize his evangelistic efforts for people based on who they were.
Knowing someone is an incredible form of bait. Truly this speaks to the deepest of longings in the human experience. Underneath layers and layers of deception, the truth is that we all just want to know and be known. As missionaries, as fishers of men and women we must pursue a genuine specific knowledge of those around us. Then from this knowledge we can appropriately approach them with the unchanging message of grace. Because you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes. Forrest Gump wore Nike Cortez’s.
(Makes me wonder what kind of shoes I’m wearing…)