‘And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. ‘ Mark 8:34 ESV
If I am learning anything during this Covid-19 crisis it is that service is far more important than position. The young person bringing my groceries out to my car ensures that we have food in the house. The insurance lady working from home takes my call and helps me to order medical supplies. In fact without the people who take away our garbage, mow our lawn and repair our water softeners our own lives would soon become intolerable. Strangely enough because of online worship sessions, we are also learning things about our pastor such as what his living room furniture and golden retriever look like and that he can lead worship with his own guitar. We have also come to a greater appreciation for the many phone calls from our family and have lingered just a little longer each time we get to see our grand kids’ faces on a video call. We are seeing clearly something we have known all along and that is that our lives are not defined by how important people think we are but by how we are loved and how we love in return by simple acts of service.
Maybe that’s what Jesus meant when He asked us to follow Him. First He called us to serve at a specific place and to certain people. Then He commands us to put those people ahead of ourselves through the ministry that God has called us to do. Finally; He tells us to give our lives just as He gave; no matter the cost and holding nothing because we are giving our all for Him.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34 ESV
Some years ago I worked trimming trees on a large estate in Katonah, New York. Since the work we did was usually done in the winter, it was a special blessing that tucked into one of the wings of the house was a green house with a small semi-heated area where we could warm ourselves at lunch. Though we rarely saw the owner or even the caretaker we were able to get in because the spare key was kept under the edge of the fountain. That key opened a little door marked, “Service entrance”.
That entrance always reminded me that God also leaves the key to His door under the fountain. At that fountain we find, not a to His service entrance door.
When Jesus gave us His new commandment He required that we love one another in the same way that He had loved us. Then, “How did Jesus love me?” we should ask. Was it not most love of all loves when He gave His life on the cross for our sins? What a mighty Savior who gave Himself humbly for us. If today we will pause at His fountain we will discover there in a hidden place the key to the service entrance to heaven. That key He gives us with His command to love God’s children from every corner of the earth!
Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. John 13:5 ESV
If you search for leadership training programs you can find 389 millions results in under a second; but not so many on learning to be a servant. But looking at the teachings of Jesus; we see Him stressing the exact opposite. Most stunning among His lessons was the night Jesus became the foot washer for His disciples. On the evening that Jesus instituted what we celebrate as communion, He concluded the supper with a simple act of service and left us an example to follow.
First Jesus did some planning. His foot washing wasn’t just some spur of the moment action. Jesus had everything prepared ahead of time so that when the moment came He was ready. For us to be a good servant we need to invest time and effort and do so with excellence. Secondly, Jesus shows us is that He served unexpectedly. When He stepped out to get the basin and the towel and then reentered the room His disciples were shocked. Most of us treat service as if it were just an option that we might consider until our pastor or some other church leader asks us repeatedly to help out. Last; Jesus chose the lowest job of all to express His love. As He began to wash and dry their dirty feet he was showing us that there was nothing He would not do to wash us and prepare us to follow Him. Then God asks us three questions. How can we get ready to serve: What unexpected blessing could we give: And what job is needed that no one else wants to do?