I enjoy doing almost anything, at least for a while. I am not a painter, but every time my children need something painted at their house, I am there. I do a pretty good job for the first couple rooms. I enjoy the new or renewed experience for the first and second room. I generally don’t commit to more than three rooms. After three, painting becomes a boring chore.
I am extroverted by nature, making me somewhat inquisitive and outgoing. I like to try new things, but not necessarily for very long. I love to help people, but don’t want to become responsible for every detail of their lives. I guess I like to act a little like Superman. No, I can’t jump tall buildings and am not faster than a speeding bullet, but I often show up at a time of crisis, do my thing and zoom off to the next need. Did you ever notice how Superman flies in, defeats the villain, rescues the girl and flies away? He doesn’t stay behind to do the day in and day out clean up.
I think Simon Peter may have had some of those Superman genes. He was an impulsive and heroic type. I could see Peter jumping in and saving the day, but within a short while, Peter would be looking for someone to rescue him. During the Last Supper, Jesus disrobed and washed the feet of His Disciples like a common slave. When He came to Peter, Peter impulsively refused. Either Peter thought washing feet was too humiliating for Jesus (maybe for himself) or Peter didn’t want to have to follow Jesus’ example.
Jesus said, “Now that I, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.” Although spoken directly to the Disciples, Jesus’ words are for us today. Washing one another’s feet means serving one another in the most humble and practical ways. The tense and voice of the Greek verb describes an ongoing action, wash and continue washing. Looking through the scriptures, we can find many other references to “one another,” but the command to stop washing feet or stop serving one another never appears.
As Christians, we are entirely dependent upon God’s supernatural grace and power to serve one another. We do not necessarily depend upon God’s grace to do heroic acts and withstand crises. Human nature and pride are enough to get us through for the moment. But to live 24/7 as a child of God performing acts of humble service in an ordinary, unnoticed existence requires God’s grace. Peter was quick to swing a sword to defend Jesus at the arrest and quick to jump out of the boat to walk to Jesus on water, “but he ‘followed Him at a distance’ on dry land (Mark 14:54)” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost, Oct. 21).
Jesus said we should go and wash one another’s feet, and He has never told us to stop. Let us continue to serve one another until the Lord returns. We cannot persevere in humble service without God’s power, love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). As the Lord gives us opportunity to serve, He also gives us of Himself, His Holy Spirit.
How about you? Are you more heroic than humble? It is human nature for us to want to do exceptional things for God, but heroic impulsive acts do not serve one another well. To serve one another, to wash feet as Jesus did, “we have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets among ordinary people” (My Utmost, Oct 21). We cannot accomplish this in one decisive visit or in a few minutes of service. Let us serve and continue serving one another.
(Randy Bain is the Senior Pastor of Oakland UM Church located at 1504 Bedford Street in Johnstown. You may reach him through the church website www.oaklandumc.com.)