The Discipline of Service
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. John 13:14-15
So, washing someone’s feet back then would have been an incredible act of humility. The way Jesus did it, was not a matter of shaming himself before others, nor in a manipulative way but to model what it means to really value others and to serve them, completely for their benefit.
As a guy who generally always wears shoes and sock, exposing my feet is not something I am keen on... feet creep me out. They are dirty. One of the most memorable shock moments for me was having to hang out in an ER room for what seemed like hours one night when as a little kid I tumbled down a bunch of stairs (tiled and metal eged) barefooted. I was knocked out for a minute and had a lump on my head. My parents just gathered me up and drove to a nearby ER. I felt like I was sitting in the waiting room naked since I had no socks or shoes on. I felt more embarrassment than anything else.
Imagine back in the day when common footwear exposed feet in mostly sandal kind of coverings... no socks, no dad ware. Getting dirty feet, really dirty feet, was common with all the walking and dirt paths. I want to think I could have handled exposed feet more easily back then. But washing other people’s feet...? That is an amazing display of a servant’s heart. No power moves there, no usurping position or authority. Just pure care, service, and humility on display for all of us to learn and follow. Jesus told his followers to do the same!
This isn’t just a hygiene lesson for us, it’s a profound declaration of what it really means to serve others. Just having the heart and mind to do this requires employing some of our previous blogs say on meditation, prayer, and solitude.
Now compare Jesus’ example with “leaders” of His day.
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28
Notice what greatness is and what being first is in God’s Kingdom... a servant is great amongst us and a slave is first.
Think about this: How would the world define greatness and being first?
With that thought in mind, ruminate (think deepy) on 1 John 2:15-16-Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.
What does service look like in scripture? Well, here are a few ideas:
Service of small things Matt 25:31-46
-I was hungry, you fed me
-I was thirsty, you gave me a drink
-I was a stranger, you invited me in
-I needed clothes, you clothed me
-I was sick, you looked after me
-I was in prison, you came to visit me
Service of protecting the reputation of others Titus 3:2
Service of being served John 13:1-17
Common courtesy Titus 3:2, Col. 4:6
Hospitality 1 Peter 4:9
Listening James 1:19
Bearing each other’s burdens Gal. 6:2
Sharing the word 1 Thes. 4:17-18 Hebrews 3:12-14
So thus far, we have talked about four inward disciplines (meditation, prayer, fasting and study). Then we talked about four outward disciplines (simplicity, solitude, submission and service). Outward disciplines are those activities that others see and receive.
In the coming weeks, we will present four corporate disciplines, or things we do together: