"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Act, make that, the "Heart" of Service! (John 13)

"....you also should wash one another's feet" (John 13:14).  Perhaps you recall the passage from which this verse is found.  Jesus is beginning his transformation from public messenger to private counselor, as His time on earth is drawing to an end. He has gathered His disciples and begins to wash their feet.  A very powerful and moving scene in which He is teaching them / us several truths. 

This morning, Pastor Andrew provided a great overview of the three applications derived from this one act.  He spoke of the call to "Receive" the cleansing (v. 8 with Peter), the need to "Recognize" the power of the cleansing (v 9-11) and the instruction for us to "Respond" to His example.  On this last call to service I wanted to provide a few thoughts that struck me from this awesome message. 

First, I really appreciated understanding the context of this act as described from a first century perspective.  We perhaps don't always recognize the full extent of how filthy feet were back then.  Open sandals, blowing dust, lack of basic hygiene, heat and sweat, days of travel .... you get the picture.  And because of this "gross factor" the very act of washing another's feet was always seen as a slave's job, and often viewed as even below that of a Jewish slave, left only to Gentile slaves.  In this honor / shame culture, the fact that Christ humbled himself to perform this unthinkable service was shocking to say the least. Think about the phrase John the Baptist used to refer to his standing compared to Christ, "not worthy to untie the thongs of His sandals" (reference to the lowliness associated with the feet).

So what does it teach us? 1) We are to be more interested in serving with a humble heart.  It is not a matter of the outward act of service, it is more a matter of the inner change. 2) We are to expect / desire nothing in return for true service.  In fact, we should be challenged to serve as Christ serves, out of Love and often at a great cost as opposed to great benefit. 3) We should not be confined to cultural norms when it comes to serving others. 

In verse 13, Jesus asks, "do you understand what I have done for you?"  He follows that in verse 15 by answering His own question, "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you."   I'm not sure we are still called to remove some guys shoes at work and starting scrubbing his toes.  But as we feel convicted to humble ourselves before others in service, to meet a need, to show love, to break down a barrier, I pray that we will find courage in Christ's example to nudge us along.  Have a great week!

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