Today’s scripture is a bit of a challenge for me.
The verses are John 13:1-17. The scene is of Jesus taking off his outer clothing, to wash the feet of his disciples. At first, Simon Peter exclaimed “No, you shall never wash my feet.” Upon Jesus’s response that He must, if the disciple wants to have any part of Him, Simon Peter responded “Then, Lord… not just my feet, but my hands and my head as well!” The word of the week is obviously still “humility.”
In previous reflections on this passage, I’ve thought about the obvious humility of Jesus… stripping himself (literally!) of His privileges, His honor, His power to engage in one of the lowliest activities of the time: Washing another’s feet. It’s made me so thankful for His approachability, His humanity, His perception of my worth, His grace.
But this time, although I continue this same consideration… I’m also led to think of the various positions of humility – the various positions of vulnerability – that are depicted in this story. Not only positions of humility and vulnerability – but intentionally chosen positions of such.
- Jesus, taking off his outer garments to wrap himself, instead, in a towel.
- Jesus, washing the feet of His friends, His disciples, His followers.
- Simon Peter, and the others, allowing Jesus to see & wash… their FEET!
In today’s fast-paced world of never-ending to-do lists, errands to run, groceries to buy, children to chauffeur, deadlines to meet, goals to achieve… I find it very difficult to consider comparable ways to position ourselves in positions of humility. Positions of vulnerability.
In my own world, I can’t even claim the position of serving my kids day in & day out – as I’m not a mom! Instead, I jump to my profession – my job as a school-based occupational therapist who works with children with disabilities to build the skills needed for life. But really, guys? For one, I get paid for it. And two, I love* it. It’s fulfilling – it energizes me! To call it a “position of humility” would be (in my heart)… just so vain! No, what I do (day in & day out) – working with colors, school supplies, writing utensils, and children… is: My PURE Joy. It’s FAR from the equivalence of washing ANYONE’s dirty* (un-manicured) FEET.
I do consider that allowing* Him to wash me as Simon Peter did – by actually stopping, taking the time to realize & address my mess-ups, and instead of quickly moving forward and “covering them up” or “tossing them to the side” – could most definitely be a position of humility. So I’ll take that… I’ll work on that. I’ll work on allowing Him to not only SEE the dirty* (un-manicured) parts of me, but really WASH them clean.
But even still… how can I practically be the towel-wrapped, kneeling, washing hands of Jesus – to OTHERS – in this day-to-day world?!
Yes – loving, cleaning, teaching, the “unlovable;” sticking up for the person who’s talked about when their back is turned; showing patience and kindness to the boldest & the least patient; spending time with someone who’s hurt or lonely… these are all Christ-like things. These are all acts of love. But still… I just don’t think they compare to taking off my clothes, putting on a towel, and washing my friends’ feet. Heck, “serving” other Christians by devoting parts of the Sunday to the nursery, childcare, greeting, and leadership needs – (( I honestly don’t mean to take away from those very important & appreciated & selfless positions, I really, really don’t. Please hear me: Each of you are filling positions that others dread. Each of you are serving a bigger purpose. Each of you are* sacrificing your time, your resources, your comfort, your families. You’re sacrificing. You’re important. I value each of you. )) – …I’m just, I’m trying to dig deeper here.
Can you help me?
What are your favorite ways to get on your knees, and really – truly – get your hands dirty?
For the sake of the cross.
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Today’s Encouragement – Join me in identifying some practical ways to practice humility – to practice the pure selflessness of Christ… without a hint of vanity. How can you intentionally place yourself in a position of vulnerability? A place of discomfort. A place of dirt & grime. For the sake of both better understanding – and better exemplifying – the cross.
I don’t know, maybe it IS calling up “that person” and lending them your ear. Calling “the other person” and scheduling a time to GIVE to them. Maybe it’s doing those things around the house that don’t come naturally to you – the things you actually, pretty much despise – for the pure joy of another. Maybe it’s taking that next step of… serving a meal at a Ronald McDonald House, volunteering your time at a battered women’s shelter, collecting clothes and supplies for the homeless.
Whatever it is for you… remember that – when your first response is: “ew!” or “whhaaat?” or “seriously?” or “gross!” or “me?” – He did it (and oh-so-much-more) for you.
P.S. – A Note of Importance: Please know that I’m – in no way – preaching at you. I promise. I’m in this with you. I’m just blabbering my reflections, my questions, my considerations, my challenges, and my struggles * – in hopes that it’ll spark your reflections, questions, considerations, etc ;-)
Thanks for spending some time with me!
– Ashlee *