Sunday, April 18, 2010

To Serve or Be Served?

During this morning's service, the comparison was made between serving, and being served. The scripture references were in John 13, the story of Jesus washing the disciples' feet. Peter of course, would have none of that, until Jesus told him he HAD to, else Peter would have no part of Christ. Oh, well then, that's a horse of a different color. In that case, Peter asked that Jesus wash all of him.

The interesting thing of this morning's message, was that it brought out that itsy bitsy part of a verse that I had missed every time before, when reading this passage, "Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love" Immediately following that verse, tells the story of the foot washing. How did doing this show the full extent of His love?

He became a servant.

He, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords; God himself incarnate. The very One who created the heavens and the earth, and all that is in it, became a servant to wash those nasty, stinky feet. Remember, during those days, the mode of travel were on the backs of animals (camels, horses, donkeys, etc) or walking. Either way, loads of dust and other grime would be wedged in between those toes. The Creator of the Universe became as a servant, and washed those nasty feet. Peter, recognize the importance of Who Jesus was (You are the Son of the Most High God), was appalled at Jesus doing a servant's work. (Perhaps a bit of pride at not wanting to expose his dirty feet?)

I find it intriguing that Judas Iscariot is still sitting at the table at this time, also getting his feet washed. Although Jesus knew that Judas wasn't one of His, he still served Judas by washing his feet. Peter wanted more washing, Judas went out and betrayed Jesus.

Jesus told them they wouldn't understand what He was doing right then, but in time, they would. He tells them that as he has served them, and washed their feet, so should they (we?) do also; serve one another. Not only serve one another, but serve one another in love.

So many times, that old flesh creeps up, and before we know it, there's a hint of self-serving in our servitude. When we feed our children, why do we do it? We do it because we love them. But what about, "We do it in hopes they'll think we're a good parent".

This point was driven home for me several years back, as I listened to the laments of a former coworker. "Why do they treat me this way? I gave them a chocolate party, extra recess, and was extra patient with 'Billy'. I'm a good teacher! Why don't they think of me as a good teacher!" It dawned on me just then--although this teacher had given her students pretty much everything under the sun, she did so for selfish reasons. It was in hopes that her class would think of her as a 'swell teacher', and not out of love for her students. We had enough conversations previous, that I knew she had no love for her class. Unfortunately, her students knew it, too. This is a common thought process. It sounds nice... like a form of accountability, but in reality? It's for selfish purposes.

I surmise that we know our identity in Christ with utmost confidence before we can get rid of, "But I'm a good_______, aren't I?" If we know that we are totally accepted in the Beloved, then we have no need to work ourselves to the bones in hopes of being accepted, approved of, or appreciated by others. We are already loved by the One Who knows how to love, so anything else would just be icing on the cake. Once we are confident of God's love for us, we can rest, knowing that we can be used to demonstrate His love, to others.
Living loved,

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