More than 200 years ago our founding forefathers set a precedent in how politics were supposed to be governed. George Washington did not feel the need to serve a lifetime in the political limelight. He served his country and gladly stepped aside. So did men like Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, John Quincy Adams and so forth. Whether one served as President, Vice-President in the house or the senate none of them viewed politics as an opportunity to amass great amounts of wealth (men like Jefferson and Washington were already wealthy before the took office). What drove these men to view such actions as service is what we find in the pages of our bible.
The greatest of all teachers, the lord of lords and the king of kings taught many wonderful lessons about service. The greatest of these occurred on the night of his betrayal. “Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He rose from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded (John 13:3-5).” Washing the feet of another was one of the lowliest jobs a servant can be asked to do. In ancient times it there was not ones to bath every day. They did not wear socks, nor did they were tennis shoes. Their roads had no side walks, the ones that were paved were paved with stones, which were dusty. The sandals consisted of a piece of leather that would be held to the sole of the foot with a few thongs of leather. Your feet would easily get gritty, grimy and nasty in between washings. For the king of kings to stoop down and wash the feet of his disciples required great humility. (Do not confuse humility with humiliation). Peter recognizing what it meant for his master to do such a thing refused to be washed by Jesus until Jesus explained that if he refuses to be washed he has not part with Christ. Then Jesus uttered a very powerful lesson. “So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him (John 13:12-16).” Service is not just a good idea for Christians to participate in. It is something that they are commanded to do. It was something that they should long to do. (Something that clearly our founding fathers sought to do despite the fact that they were powerful men in this early days of this country).
I am afraid that service is something that many Christians have forgotten to do. Sure, we have those that serve the Lord’s Supper. We have those that serve by cleaning the building, lead songs and prayers and teach our bible classes. (I do not seek to belittle the fine work those men and woman do). However how many of us serve apart from things associated with the Sunday service or Wednesday night bible class? Consider what Paul had to say about those that should be considered widows indeed. “Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work (I Tim 5:9-10).” Half of the qualifications were dealing with her service. If you were to count the service that go into raising children and being a good wife then you can say all but one deal with service. And yet, we seem to ignore the practice of service. We argue that feet washing is not to be practiced today (much like we say fasting is a custom no longer necessary). We say that our lives are just to busy to get that involved. Brethren, our lives are no more hectic than what they were 2000 years ago. Did you know back then they did not have regulations in place that would not allow an employer to demand you work 7 days a week, unless you or your boss was Jewish? Did you know that they would work from sun up to sun down? Did you know they didn’t have cars that made travel between towns and homes quicker? And yet these Christians found ways to serve.
Now, I am not saying that we need to have a giant foot washing “party.” What I am saying that is that we need to find ways to be actively serving one another. We need to stop being so prideful into thinking that we cannot do such work and get our hands dirty. Who knows, maybe along they way, we will not only become better servants, but better friends, a closer family, and a stronger church. -WTK
Grinnell church of Christ
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Volume 3 Issue 42 September 23, 2012