The big weekend is finally here! Naturally the last minute stuff for the Convoy of Hope Minneapolis rally is taking up a lot of my time, so my blog post today is based on the devotional I have been putting together for the Children’s Shoes volunteer team. If your mission this week is Convoy, serving at your church, or any other means of blessing others, let this word encourage your work!
John 13:3-17 (at the last supper)
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 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. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
Right away verse 3 just jumps off the page to me. Jesus KNEW his place in the kingdom. He knew who he was in God’s eyes and had eternity in mind. When we know our worth we don’t have to go around proving it by seeking status. When we keep eternity in mind we’re less interested in the earthly version of position.
Have you ever had a really good boss? He or she probably supported you, encouraged you, and made sure you had the tools to succeed. Bad leaders are all about their own ego and reputation. The best leaders are servant leaders like Jesus. It’s not about being on top, it’s about making sure everyone has the support and resources they need to succeed.
Jesus knew who he was, he knew it was all about eternity, and he led by taking care of others so the message could be magnified.
Matthew 6: 31-46
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
I have long been bothered by this word “least.” It sounds like a statement of value, and Americans don’t like that idea. We like “all men are created equal,” not greatest/least. So who are the “least of these”? I don’t think Jesus was referring to value when he said “least.” The Bible affirms the value of people over and over. The psalmist says that God knit you together in your mother’s womb and journaled out the days of your life. Jeremiah reminds us that He has good plans for us. Romans 8:28 says that all things work together for the good of those who love God. I think what Jesus means by “least” is those with the least power or least access to resources, like widows, orphans, and those with physical or mental limitations. The people we minister to through our volunteer work are valuable, hardworking people, many of whom (and for a variety of reasons) have less power and less access to resources. Our role is NOT to judge whether or not they are truly in need or if they are to blame for their own situations. Our only role is to be the hands and feet of Jesus – the same Jesus who forgave prostitutes, healed lepers, and forgave tax collectors.
We volunteer so the hungry, jobless, shoeless, etc. can get back on a more level playing field where we can run the race of life side by side.
We can’t “fix” the poor and hungry. We are broken, flawed people, not gods. But we can recognize that there is need in this world and that we have the means (money, time, etc.) to partner with these people who are just trying to take care of their families. I hope that you to see the people you serve as your equals in value who may be the “least of these” in terms of their power and/or access to resources.
So laugh with a child. Bless a mom who is working hard to get her kids ready for school. Make an immigrant family feel welcome in their new home. Wash some feet. And remember what it says in Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.