Right before the apostle, John writes of Jesus washing the disciple’s feet, he pens a description of what was in Jesus’ mind. This is John 13:3.

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands and that he had come from God and was going back to God…

This is an interesting place for one’s mind to dwell. Jesus’ choice to humble himself and wash their feet might be the opposite of what many people around us would choose. Do the richest people around us (those who could be described as having everything placed “into their hands”) often humble themselves and intentionally do the tasks that most people around them do not want to do?

Too often, church people spiritualize service. I learned this after my oldest was born. My mother-in-law had flown out to join us for the birth. I had just taken a new job and didn’t feel like I could be away much, so I was not much help at home. During those weeks, she cleaned for us, did laundry, and every day when I got home from work, had a wonderful meal prepared. Several times in those weeks it was steak and potatoes. What a treat! When the day came for her to fly home, just before taking her to the airport, I stopped her in the kitchen in order to thank her for the help and all the ways she blessed us. I said something like, “You have been an amazing servant to our family!” I thought it was a compliment, but she got mad.

You see, she was not a regular church attender and when I said she had been an amazing servant, she didn’t feel complimented at all. Instead, she felt insulted. I tried to insist that the use of the word servant was a good thing, but she assumed I was looking down on her; like a slave.

Has serving lost its sense of muck and lowliness in your eyes because of the spiritual significance you may have attributed to it through the years? In some ways that is good, because like Jesus showed, believers exist to serve and not be served. But maybe in some ways that is bad, because like Jesus showed, it really does require elevating others and stooping down to lowly tasks, where they really could look down on you, for the sake of where we’ve come from and where we’re going.

Pastor John Riley
Jr. High Pastor

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