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I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, Philippians 3:10

Be careful what you ask for. To know the power of Christ, to be able to heal, to endure hardship, to sleep in the bow of the boat during a violent storm are all noble aspirations. Every one of them is something each of us would love to attain.

One can not bask in the glory of Christ unless one endures the suffering of Christ. Lest we romanticize the ministry of Jesus on earth let us not forget that many times the only place to rest his head was on the hard ground. He had no place to call home except for the homes of generous friends. Even his grave was donated to him by someone who he may have never met.

Other than a devoted few, his list of friends and followers was a revolving door of people who were looking for an earthly kingdom, who became critical of his alleged rejection of religious Sabbath laws, and the ungrateful that came for healing and, once made pure, were never heard from again. Oh, and the devoted few? They all abandoned him at the cross. Every last one of them.

And his family? On a couple of occasions they came looking for him. Not to follow him mind you, but to quarantine him in the safe confines of the carpenter shop. When his brothers talked about Jesus during his ministry the word ‘lunatic’ was frequently heard. Only his mother seemed to stand quietly in the shadows watching her son grow, minister and eventually die.

The church was no safe haven for Jesus either. He was scrutinized on every front. His motives were misread and misunderstood. He was accused of being possessed by the devil and an affront to everything the Jewish religion stood for.

What made Jesus different? There are perhaps many answers to that question, but one that comes to my mind is that Jesus always held before him the purpose for which he was called. He wasn’t called to be blessed. He wasn’t called to be powerful and respected. He wasn’t called to be a mighty leader. He was called to be a servant and die in the process. But along the way, he changed the world!

Although I shudder at what it might mean, I echo the prayer of the Apostle Paul. Regardless of what it may mean to me physically, emotionally, or socially, I want to know Christ. I want to know him in such a way that his power shows through me to others.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, You showed us in your life that we will be faced with all sorts of trials and tribulations. I want to know you. I want to know your power in my life. I confess to you that even as I pray this prayer I’m nervous about what may lie ahead. Empower me by your Spirit to trust you as I forge ahead on this journey of life. In your name I pray, Amen.

 


After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. John 13:5

So, imagine, just for a moment, that you are one of Jesus’ disciples. It’s been a long day walking along the hot and dusty road through the wilderness. You are hot and tired. Even the thoughts of the people Jesus healed in the last town aren’t lifting your spirits. All you can think of is laying down to eat and giving your hot sore feet a rest.

As you enter the room where the meal is to be served you breathe a sigh of relief. The room is ready. The clay walls have kept the room cool. A welcome relief from the blazing sun outside. You scan the room briefly. Table is ready. Bread is out. Fresh wine is already poured. Foot washing bowl is in the corner complete with towel and ….wait. Where is the foot-washing servant?

You shake your head. Judas and his penny-pinching. How hard would it have been to get a servant to wash your feet? The coolness of the room is replaced by the heat of anger rising inside you. It doesn’t take that much to plan.

You look around once more. Nope. No servant. Most of the others probably think your face is red from being outside. It isn’t. It’s red with anger as you make your way to your spot. Hopefully you’ll get a place near Jesus so that if an opportune time comes you can tell him what you think of the lack of a servant.

John reclines beside you. Great! Everyone knows that he has the smelliest feet of the group and now there’s no one to wash them. Can this day get any worse? Your thoughts are interrupted by the sloshing sound of water. A momentary sense of relief comes as you turn towards the sound. The momentary relief is replaced by shock as you look down and see Jesus at your feet. Towel wrapped around his waist, his hands gently washing the hot dust from your feet. It feels so incredibly good on one hand, and seems so incredibly wrong on the other. He’s the Rabbi! He has no place stooping so low as to wash our feet.

What was that he was saying? No servant is greater than his master? Of course not. A servant is a servant. Then it hits you. We are all servants. John with his stinking feet is no better or worse than you are. Judas with his penny-pinching, shady ways is on the same level as you too. And Peter, with his arrogant, speak-now-think-later ways? No worse than the attitude you are embracing in your heart.

It’s the same Jesus today as in the upper room. He is still willing to kneel down to your level. He’s still willing to touch you in the areas that are most in need of his touch, no matter how dirty, no matter how rotten those areas are.

His love is like soothing cool water on hot, painful feet. His touch softens the hardest calluses of your soul. Jesus thinks nothing of stooping to the lowest level to lift you up. Let him wash your feet today. Feel the soothing, healing relief of his love and forgiveness. Then reach out to those who need to feel that touch as well.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank you for the lesson of the feet washing. I confess that there are too many times I’ve thought myself to important or too busy to reach out to others who need to feel your touch. Refresh me with the soothing touch of your love and forgiveness. Empower me to share your love and forgiveness with those around me. In your name I pray, Amen.


When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:39-40

I have a confession to make. I have a problem with ‘Christians’. I think it’s safe to say that because I’m honored to have been chosen by Christ. I’m so thankful that He willingly and lovingly forgave a weak-willed sinner like me, and continues to do so. So I’m well aware that when I point fingers I have four more pointing back at me and perhaps that’s good since I’m probably more guilty than most.

One of the most frequent accusations I hear about ‘us’ is that we are all just a bunch of hypocrites. When we hear that we’re tempted to use a quick comeback like: “Then join us, you’ll fit right in!”, or “Well, we aren’t perfect, we’re just forgiven”. But the reality is, it stings for any of us when our weaknesses and failures are flaunted to those outside the ‘circle’.

Maybe one of the reasons it’s so hard to hear the accusations is because there are so many times when I’ve seen people who claim to be Christians doing things that Jesus would never do. When I see people verbally (and sometimes physically) assault ‘corrupt and evil sinners’ in the name of Jesus I want to…..slap them! (or worse but then I’d be like them).

Don’t get me wrong. I have several close friends I truly admire for the way they reach out to those in need. There are many openly Christian organizations that do a tremendous work to show Christ’s love in times of disaster, and tragedy. God Bless You if you are in one of those groups!

But there are so many times when I hear people say things about how they’d never go back to church after they were treated badly, or hear horror stories of people in agony who have been stomped on in ‘the name of Jesus.’

It’s relatively easy to be ‘Christ-like’ in a situation where there is tragedy and disaster and it’s noble as well. The question is, how many people are silently struggling around us? How many are enduring the pain of divorce, addictions, abuse, anger and chemical dependency with no comfort from someone who is ‘Jesus in skin’?

We need to recognize that God did not put those who are down and out on earth for me to change, convict or save. He put them here for me to learn from, listen to, to challenge and be challenged by, and to enjoy together and if possible and to comfort along this journey we call life.

Here are some ideas that may help each of us (and I emphasize EACH of us) in making a difference among the silently struggling in our own little corner of the world. Each should be bathed in prayer and practiced until perfection.

First, keep your eyes and ears open to the feelings (not just the words) of those who you come in contact with. Many times people hide their pain in sarcasm, and other ways. The trained ear knows how to look past the shell of protection to see the real need.

Secondly, make time to be available. Look for service projects that need to be done. Volunteer at a school, a shelter, in your church, at a local ministry. Ministry doesn’t come to you. Search for it and you may be surprised that even though things in your life are not going well, being a servant not only elevates those who are suffering, it elevates you as well. Don’t let your own trouble keep you from being someone else’s comfort.

Thirdly, be available inspire of your own busy schedules. Service isn’t always convenient. There were many times in Jesus’ life when he took side trips because of need. Let the grass grow a little longer, the clothes pile up in the laundry and use that time to be a servant to someone in need.

Finally realize that being a servant to someone may require a personal price. You may have to sacrifice your reputation. People may question your motives. You may be taken advantage of. You may be accused wrongfully. That’s all part of being a servant. It happened to Jesus and will happen to you as well.

Big ‘C’ or little ‘c’? Which will it be in your life? Is your Christian faith a religion to practice or a relationship to enjoy and grow in?

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. When I think of your ministry on earth I’m in awe of your patient, giving and loving attitude. While I try to live my life so others will see You in me, I confess that I fall woefully short. Empower me with your Spirit to be a servant to those who may be silently suffering. Help me use my pain to comfort others. In your name I pray, Amen.

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