Saturday, May 16, 2009

Humility 2

Continuation from the last blog...

In contrast Jesus said, “I have not come to be served, but to serve and to give my life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) Jesus said many things about humble service and he did not only speak – he showed – he gave us an example. One particular example was when Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. Just as in today's society, you would not see a CEO, or Company President sweeping the floor or serving in the canteen (unless it was for some photo-op – then only for a few moments), it was unheard of in Jesus time for anyone above the rank of slave to wash another's feet. It was so revolutionary, that Peter was startled. I don't know for sure, but I think Jesus first went to Peter and the conversation that ensued was one that could have been initiated by any of the disciples.

Peter: Lord, you washing MY feet?
Jesus: You don't understand
what I am doing right now, but soon you will understand.
Peter: No, no, you don't wash my feet Lord!
Jesus: Peter, unless I wash your feet, you have no part with me
Peter: Well, then wash me – not only my feet Lord, my hands, and my face too!
Jesus: I'm sure you had a bath before you came. There is no need for all that, only that I wash your feet, then your whole body will be clean. You are clean – well there's one who isn't.
(He said this because He knew that Judas Iscariot was about to betray Him.)
He finished washing all the disciples feet and then sat down again in his place.
Jesus: Do you understand what I have just done?
You call me Teacher and Lord, and that's correct I am. If I, your Lord and have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you do as I have done. I tell you the truth no servant is greater than his master. Nor is a messenger
greater than the one sending him. Now that you know these things, you will be
blessed if you do them.

The act of of washing a person's feet, was a sign of respect to a guest visiting one's home. It was usually carried out by one of the slaves, if the family hosting was in a position to own a slave. I suppose, though I cannot support this, that in those families that were not in position to have either slave or servant, the daughter or son, would fulfil this role. Jesus however was not asking us to find someone to wash another's feet, but, regardless of our 'status' in the community, to wash the feet of others. Jesus instruction to wash one another's feet should not be taken literally, but what he was saying was that everyone of us must be ready to serve others, regardless of our relative stations in life, and we should be willing to do ANYTHING, that needs doing, regardless of how lowly that task may seem.

Jesus also put this message across in the following way, at the same meal where he washed His disciples feet. He said, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His thrown in the heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the Sheep on His right and the goats on His left. The the King will say to those on His right, “Come you are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you invited me in; I needed clothes and you clothed me; I was sick and you looked after me; I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Then the righteous will answer Him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty, give you something to drink? When did we see you, a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison and go to visit you? And the King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” And likewise, the 'goats' were those who could not be bothered to help those whom they probably thought were beneath them.
Does this mean that all that theology of accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour goes out the window and that at the end of the day, what really matters is how we reach the needs (felt-needs) of poverty stricken world. I think not. We still believe that Salvation is attained by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, but what I think this tells us, is that our faith, if it is in anyway genuine will exhibit itself, not through religious and pious exclamations, but in how we serve our fellow human being. I think I fall so short, I wonder how many times have I seen the Lord, lying in the doorway of some building, because the streets are cold. How many times have I rolled my car window up when the Lord has come to ask for a few coins. How many times have I closed my eyes when I've seen my Lord, dying of AIDS? I could not tell you? I do not know. I know though that in Christ there is no condemnation, and I am in His love. But I'm reminded by this passage that the Lord is in everyone, in the sense that in as much as we serve them, we serve Him. The people we interact with on a day to day basis, be they clients, or colleagues, employers, or employees, these are the people we need to see as Jesus, and serve them as if we were serving Him. How would our attitude change if we grasped the reality of this. As our attitude changes so will our actions. I'm not suggesting for a minute that you should help every beggar you see, but it would be good if you simply stop despising them.

There is still more that I discovered as I sat down to write this blog and so, stay tuned for the next instalment of this blog that deals in particular with being judgmental - which just another way of showing our pride - we regard ourselves as superior 'better Christians' because we are not like that 'dirty sinner'...

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