As some of you know, I have begun to run and exercise in Vibram Five Fingers. After a rocky start, I have settled down to running and exercising (boot camp mostly) in them regularly. (I also do my lighter yard work in them.)
Once my calves and Achilles tendons stretched enough to keep my heels on the ground, I have been good to go. I don't plan on going back to elevated sole running shoes again.
I have run as far as 6 miles on concrete without complications and over an hour on trails with only an occasional stick between the toes and rock on my instep (the worst-but rarest-pain of barefoot running). The muscle and hip pains that halted my running in shoes have subsided, and running like I did when I was a kid has put me back on the road and trails at age 56.
So, what does barefoot running have to do with discipleship?
For those of you here because of the barefoot running title, discipleship is a biblical term for an apprentice of Jesus. When someone trusts Jesus is who he says he is (the Son of God) and will do what he says he will do (rescue us from destruction and adopt us into his family), they become an apprentice, or, disciple of Jesus. Disciples are learners. Like someone training for his or her first 5K or marathon, the apprentice is with Jesus to learn to live like Jesus. Yes, a high order, but so is going from the couch to the finish line of a marathon. It can be done.
Barefoot running is to the sport of running what apprenticeship is to the art of discipleship.
Simpler is better. The technology of running shoes has not improved the injury rate of runners, and the intellectual improvement of discipleship materials has not improved the godliness or impact of Jesus followers. Barefoot running puts our feet back on the ground where humans have run on for millennia. Apprenticeship to Jesus puts his disciples back in the streets where the greatest need for his love and way of life is needed.
Getting back to "feet on the ground" and "following Jesus into the streets" may be the solutions to both our running and discipleship issues.
Just a thought.