Imagine going into your work place and your boss tells you and the other staff that she or he is going to make you all the drinks you ever need during the week to come. Or if you are a student, that your lecturer would come and cook all your meals.
In either scenario, we might think, ‘what is that about?’. Perhaps we would be a bit skeptical and ask what is the hidden agenda? Or perhaps we would simply be shocked. Or even suggesting, “no, we should do that for you, not for us”
Or what about if the King, Queen, President or other leader of the nation you are from, came to your house and did the cleaning? (not meant disrespectfully about whoever your country’s leader is)
If we can begin to ‘feel’ a bit of emotion for any of the above scenarios, we begin to get a hint of what it might have been like for Jesus’ disciples on the night before he was crucified (check out John’s Gospel chapter 13). They were eating together as part of the Jewish Passover festival. Jesus knew he was going to be arrested and killed in the day that would follow.
In the account we read these words, “having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love” (the latter part can also be translated, “he loved them to the end”)
Though Christ was their Lord, their Teacher, though He was God in the flesh; He chose to wash the dirt and dust off their feet. This was very counter-cultural to all accepted ‘norms’ of how a rabbi/leader/teacher should be.
Why did He do it?
Yes, Jesus was setting an example of serving and for those who follow Him to likewise have hearts to serve.
But this was not just His making a ‘good teaching illustration’. It was expression of God’s love in action.
Such love took Christ to the cross – taking upon Himself the wrongdoings of humanity.
Love serves and that can cost.
When I write that love serves, I don’t mean that it will mean we always feel like it of course. I am sure Jesus did not feel like being crucified!
But if with God’s help, we can embrace that love serves, this will help to cut across any sense of serving only because ‘we must’ or it is ‘the right thing to do’.
It may be that you are reading this and you are tired, may be even really tired from serving. Perhaps this relates to your family situation, your church, the voluntary organisation you are part of or helping a poorly neighbour or friend. May be you have got to a place where you feel you have nothing left to give. Or you see so many different heart breaking things in the news, that it can end up seeming there is nothing that can be done.
Well in reminding us all (myself included) that love serves, four thoughts:
- Remember who we are serving – we are called to ‘love the Lord our God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’ (Matthew 22:37). The Lord knows fully what being human is like – Christ though God, served. We can look to Him for strength and empowering to serve others.
- It is okay to rest and to have boundaries – Jesus also said ‘love your neighbour as yourself’. Jesus took time out, he had times to rest. Serving others is a good thing but self-care is also important. Do we build this in as part of our lives?
- Pray and ask for discernment – Yes it is true that love serves. But you only have so many hours in the day, only so much energy or resources. We cannot respond personally to every financial appeal or every cry for help. Let’s ask the Lord to show us where to serve.
- Draw on His love – The Apostle Paul wrote, “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5)