Friday, March 12, 2010

Life of Service, Part 3

Here’s the thing: every single one of us has been called to serve. Serving is what sets followers of Christ apart from the rest of the world. Serving is what defines us as grace-filled, merciful, loving, and selfless people. Serving gives legs to the words we profess. The question is simply where and in what capacity. Jesus told his followers in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

We are called to be His witnesses, to be those who will stand and give an account of who he is and what he has done. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we say, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done.” If that doesn’t happen in us and through us, why are we asking for Him to do it?

What does it look like when God’s Kingdom comes?

What did it look like when the King of the Kingdom came?

He fed the hungry with a small boy’s simple lunch. He actually fed thousands of them.

He visited the sick and raised the dead back to life. On multiple occasions.

He broke bread with the thief after calling him down from a tree. The thief in turn repaid not only all that he had stolen, but more to make amends.

He defended the adulteress by writing a word in the sand and welcoming those who were without sin to cast the first stone. Amazing how quickly a crowd disperses. 

He visited a man imprisoned by his insanity, shunned to the graves by his people, and then healed him by driving out his demons and restored him to community.

He cured the lonely outcasted woman who had bled for 12 years when she touched the hem of his garment. He was her last hope. He came through for her. 

Scripture says:
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He stood before his disciples, those he called friends, and he bent over to the ground, and he scrubbed their dirty, dusty, dry and cracked feet, drying them on the towel around his waist. 

And then he came to the friend who would betray. The friend who would sell him out. The friend who would hand him over and begin the process that would lead to his crucifixion and death. He came to this friend, and he knelt to the floor, washed his dirty, dusty, dry and cracked feet...and dried them on the towel around his waist.

But he still had one more. From there he moved to his friend, his dear, precious friend, with whom he had spent many hours of many days, teaching, loving, sharing, cherishing. And this friend...this friend would deny him altogether. 

Could you possibly imagine how this would have affected the man Jesus? What about the time we spent together? The walks we took? The conversations we had? All that we went through? And you’re going to deny me? You don’t know me at all?

Three times this friend denied that he ever knew Jesus at all. And Jesus bent low to the ground before him, and gently, lovingly, tenderly, scrubbed his dirty, dusty, dry and cracked feet and dried them on the towel around his waist.

What I particularly want you to see is this: Jesus served all of these people, and so many more, without any hesitation, without pretense, without considering whether He was being taken advantage of or being used. He washed the feet of all of the disciples as if all of them were standing on even ground.

I have to say that if it were me, when I got to those last two, I might have been more inclined to dump the water directly on them and walk away rather than tenderly washing their deceiving feet. But not Jesus. Unconditional. I love you, period.

Then Jesus said, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

And then that very King allowed himself to be lead through the streets of Jerusalem, after being beaten and scorned. The most powerful being in the world allowed himself to be nailed to a Roman cross by the very hands that He himself created.

This is what makes the follower of Christ different from a humanist or any other ideology around the world. Christ has taught, nay, modeled for us sacrificial, unconditional, “I love you, period” kind of love. Because in the end, we are reminded that it’s not about us or what we get in return. It's about serving and loving the King. It's about representing Him well. 

Tomorrow I'll share with you how God fleshed it out for me...

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