Getting past ‘me first’ through faith

Published 9:14 pm Thursday, April 6, 2017

By Larry Stover
Stover lives in Valley Grande and is pastor at Praise Park Ministries Church of the Nazarene.

It was a very intense time in the life of Jesus Christ. Some three and a half years of public ministry were about to end. His arrest was imminent. He knew what was hours ahead. The thoughts of the scourging and crucifixion were heavy on his mind. Added to the mix were the lies, betrayal of Judas, Simon Peter’s denial, a Kangaroo Court, and the weight of the world. The Savior of the world was about to carry out the most pivotal event in the history of mankind.

In the midst of these events was the Jewish celebration of the Passover, their reminder of a God who had delivered them from Egyptian bondage millennia before.

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Jesus had sent Peter and John ahead to prepare for this meal that was central to the culture and theology of all Jerusalem. The food had been prepared and the table set. Jesus and the Disciples arrived and took their places.

There was a problem. Peter and John had not hired a servant to wash the feet of everyone. Try to imagine this situation with me. In that culture, it was the most demeaning role around. It was usually performed by the lowest slave or servant.

This was a necessary task as everyone wore sandals and travelled by foot. The roads were not only dusty but were also cluttered with camel and donkey manure. It was a common courtesy for the host to have his servant wash the feet of his guests as they entered his house.

The towel and basin were present but no one had been given the task to wash everyone’s feet. Peter and John had not taken care of this matter.

As the disciples recline at the table, they are a little uneasy. The smell in the air was not pleasant. Some might have been thinking, “Somebody ought to at least wash Jesus feet.” Others might have thought, “If I do that where will that put me socially?” Maybe, “If I volunteer I’ll get stuck with that nasty job from now on.” Or, “Maybe if I just wait, someone else will do it.”

If you have been around the church for more than a month, you know what I mean. “Somebody needs to take care of the children but that is not my ministry.” “Who forgot to clean the restrooms? Someone sure dropped the ball on that one.” That list could go one forever!

I think that each disciple was hoping that another would do it. “John is the youngest, let him do it.” “I don’t ever remember seeing Peter do it?” “Peter and John were supposed to take care of this. It’s not my problem.” While we do not know all the “what ifs” going on, we do know that no one rose to the task.

With a little gasp of the air, Jesus rose to wash the feet of His Disciples. In doing so, taught his leadership team the role of servanthood. With less than 24 hours before his crucifixion Jesus gives instruction on the basic need of all humanity, to serve others.

America has become a nation of “me first” individuals. We ask the age old question, “What’s in it for me?” As a result, we become self-centered, and egotistical.

The most exciting aspect of Christian “love” is that it is more than just an emotion, it is all about action. Being a servant takes on many expressions. Someone gets sick and we take them a meal. It’s what motivates my family physician to take a month every year and volunteer his skills on the mission field. It’s stopping to change a tire for a senior citizen or coach a Little League baseball team. I’ve seen that spirit of volunteerism in and out of the church. There are numerous civic opportunities to stir up that love in action.

In what ways are you being a servant in 2017? How are you letting your “light shine?” I believe that Jesus Christ wants us to make a mark on our neighborhoods and I believe that he wants us to leave our fingerprints everywhere we go. Volunteers make such a difference in our communities.

Jesus taught us, by example, what it means to serve. What others think is not the issue, serving is what makes life “Simply Beautiful.”