Someone from out of town.
So I've heard. I also think an expert--that person we listen to with great expectation and hold their opinions and teachings at a higher level than the average Joe--is someone we pay to hear, someone we pull out our notebook and pen for, and someone we tell others about.
And we tend to think that unless I'm an expert--someone with a name and an entourage and a book or two--I have little to no chance of really making a mark in this world.
But Jesus taught otherwise. And if we're going to get serious about looking at life from our Lord's perspective we need to value what He taught over what conventional wisdom teaches.
Jesus said that to make a mark in this world we simply need to serve.
Now I don't know about you, but I'd rather have some business cards made up, set me up a web site, and work the expert angle. It's a lot more glamorous, more appealing...to the flesh...my flesh.
But if Jesus, my Lord and Master, didn't operate that way, then neither should I. I can't expect to make a dent in this world by going the expert route. I'll only make a lasting mark by doing it Jesus' way...serving.
Not only did Jesus serve willingly every day as He encountered the needy and distraught people of Israel, but He also gave us a beautiful and challenging portrait of service at its most menial when He washed the disciples' feet just before His crucifixion.
Peter was astounded by Jesus' grunt labor. He didn't want to participate, he was so taken aback. We've read the story enough, seen the teaching pictures to go with the narrative and processed it all with admiration, so we're not quite as surprised by Jesus' actions. We're suitably impressed. But do we really think He meant for us to bend quite that low in order to serve those around us?
I think that's exactly what He meant.
And I'm not very good at heeding that call. Are you?
The question that rings in my mind is "how?" How am I supposed to get to the point where I'm willing, obliged, and grateful for the opportunity to serve? Not to do the expert thing...the glamorous thing...the showy thing, but to really take up a rag in one hand and a dirty foot in the other and serve?
I want to be willing. I want to say, like the friendly folks at Chick-fil-A, "It's my pleasure to serve you!" And I want to mean it.
And today as I read from John 13:1-20 I found the solution to my lack of want-to. I'm sure most of us have missed this seemingly insignificant phrase as we've launched into the familiar story, but I'd like to draw our attention to it today.
Jesus, knowing that the Father
had given all things into His hands,
and that He had come from God
and was going to God,
rose from supper and laid aside His garments,
took a towel and girded Himself.
I think it's no coincidence that John lets us know how it is that Jesus could perform such a menial act of service. Quite simply, He knew who He was.
It couldn't have been easy for Jesus to serve those men on that fateful day. We tend to think that everything Jesus did was somehow easy for Him. After all, He is God. But consider what He was dealing with on that particular evening.
He was tired. He had at least 12 tired, dirty, smelly, clueless men around Him. He was growing closer and closer to the moment for which He had come: not a moment of glory, but a terrible, humiliating, and painful death. The guys who clamored to sit close to Him right now would soon scatter like roaches in the light. And He was about to take on--literally, physically, and spiritually--the sins of these disloyal guys, the folks who were crucifying, spitting on, and jeering at Him, and you and me.
That would not be the moment I would easily, willingly get up and put on a servant's towel and pick up a basin of water. No, I'd be soaking in a pool of self-pity and looking around me with contempt and disdain.
But not our Lord. He served.
He had nothing to prove, nothing to lose, and nothing to hide. Jesus knew where He'd come from and where He was ultimately returning. He knew the mission that had been given Him was the one that all hope hinged upon.
It occurs to me that if I know who I am in Christ Jesus--His beloved, His friend, His precious one--then I am more likely to serve with willingness and complete abandon. If I know my purpose in life--to glorify Him so that people may come to Him--then I can lay aside my own agenda, my desires and my reputation in order to bend low enough to really make a difference. And if I know that this day is only a blink of the eye in the larger scheme of things and that I'm heading to an eternity in His kingdom, then I can get my hands a little dirty today, sweat a little today, be a little uncomfortable today.
It's all a matter of perspective.
Oh, Lord, give me Your perspective so that I might serve others as You did. With grace and love and complete abandon.