Summary: An ongoing look at spiritual disciplines. Today we look at Servanthood
Spiritual Disciplines: Service
June 6, 2021
It’s the night of the Passover celebration, you don’t realize this will be the last meal you eat with Jesus. You’re one of Jesus’ disciples and you walk into the room and you expect someone to wash your feet . . .
You see water, a towel, but there’s no servant to wash your feet. What do you do? Do you wash your dirty feet or just shake your head at the poor hospitality and sit down? Knowing that when you sit down, your feet and everyone’s dirty feet will be close to the food.
Foot washing was a common practice, but there were no servants there. So, each disciple does the same thing. They all file in and recline at the table, making themselves comfortable as they stick their dirty feet in each other’s faces.
They’re ready to celebrate the Passover. Jesus takes His place at the center of the table. Suddenly He gets up, walks over to the water basin and takes off His outer garment. He looks at the disciples who are waiting to be served, and they stare back at Jesus. You wonder what Jesus was thinking, ‘Father this is unbelievable! Don’t they get it? I’ve talked to them until I’m blue in the face. What more do I need to do?’ Sermon after sermon, illustration after illustration, confrontation after confrontation, miracle after miracle and they still don’t get it.
So, Jesus picked up the servant’s towel, poured water into the basin and went to each disciple and kneeled as he washed their dirty, smelly feet.
After washing their feet, including Judas’, Jesus returned to the table and said --
13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am.
14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet.
15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you
16 I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.
17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
The call from Jesus to the disciples and to each one of us is to become a servant. And if we were really to speak the truth about serving, many of us aren’t really thrilled with the prospect of becoming a servant. You see the call of Jesus is not just to serve, but to become a servant.
In his book Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster wrote,
In some ways we would prefer to hear Jesus’ call to deny father and mother, houses and land for the sake of the gospel than His word to wash feet. Radical self-denial gives the feel of adventure. If we forsake all, we even have the chance of glorious martyrdom. But in service we must experience the many little deaths of going beyond ourselves. Service banishes us to the mundane, the ordinary, the trivial. (126)
Those are tough words, words which step on our toes. And when we think about it, there are many who just don’t like to serve. There are a myriad of reasons why-
We think people will take advantage of us.
We complain why aren’t other serving along with me.
We wonder if anyone will see me serve, so they will think more of me.
We think the work is beneath us.
We judge those we are supposed to serve.
We don’t have the love within us.
We just refuse to do it. - - - No time
I mean let’s be honest, serving comes in all different shapes and sizes and at all different places and times in our lives. I like what John Ortberg said in his book, The Life You’ve Always Wanted, when he spoke about serving taking place at home. He explained when the baby cries in the middle of the night, he could fake being asleep, and then as his wife is leaving the room, say a few words in a kind of groggy voice, as if he would’ve gotten up to take care of the child, but he’s just a heavier sleeper. This way, he gets credit for wanting to help, but being just a little late, and he gets the extra luxury of staying in bed and falling back to sleep.
But what would happen if he just got out of bed and groggily, but joyfully went over to that child and took care of the crying child? He could be a blessing. (118)
Some may say it’s a matter of perspective, I would say it’s a matter of the heart, the heart of a servant.
When a loved one is sick, we don’t often consider the toll it will take on us, instead we willingly and lovingly care for our loved one. We don’t view it as a service, we don’t call ourselves a servant, we do it because of love. There are times when we take in a parent or child who has met up with a difficult time in life and we know it’s right to take them into our home and care and love them. You’re being a servant, but you don’t see it as a spiritual discipline, in fact, it is a natural event in your life, and you don’t think twice about doing it.