Acts of Service, John 13.1-17, Servanthood.


An old blog I found, I wrote a while back…

“The Son of Man (a name Jesus used for himself, originally used in the book of Daniel) came not to BE SERVED but to SERVE and to give his life as a Ransom for many!”

 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 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!”
10 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.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
12 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. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

I have been thinking a lot about servant hood recently.

On Wednesday, I had to bow to what my senior colleague said about something, and I submitted, but it didn’t sit comfortably and made me think about having an attitude of a servant, and humility and all that stuff.

I think too that as Christians are image of leadership stems from Lord Sugar’s Board room rather than following the example of Christ.

Jesus saying at the Garden of Gethsemane on his knees before his heavenly Father, ‘no my will but yours’, how many of us have basically tried to say to God “not your will but mine”…

I heard my Landlord in St. Mike’s in York sing enthusiastically “it’s not about your Jesus”… it was a mistake the real line of the song is “Its ALL about you Jesus, for your glory and your fame, it’s not about me, as if you should do things my way, you alone are God and I surrender to you!”

Surrender is not a concept we like, but as the Archbishop said when asked by a bunch of ordinances what was the key to fruitful ministry and he paused and said “dying to self, continually and perpetually”… In other words being obedient to Jesus and submitting to his will is the only way to do ministry effectively, as going God’s way is the only way of serving him.

I think John the Baptist understood servant leadership, when he said about Jesus “I must decrease so he might increase”…

I have been watching the West Wing Recently, and there was a great episode where the president of the USA didn’t take the credit for sorting out the social services budget as if he was seen to be involved it wouldn’t ‘get through the house’ so was prepared to sit back and let some less worthy people bask in the glory, in the knowledge that he’d done the right thing, called it his ‘invisible legacy’…

Are we prepared to see the Kingdom advance without any recognition for our hard work behind the scenes?

I think Sam (my wonderful Intern who worked with me two years ago) is going to be a great leader, why? because he has been a great follower, carrying tables, emptying bins and doing all sorts of grotty jobs without complaining shows he has the right heart and God will rise him up…

Whereas too often we see leaders who won’t serve.

Recently I caught our senior minister cleaning the toilets in the hall because they were a seriously gross health hazzard, yet we have some guys who over the 4 years I have been here have never seen them do the washing up, or move chairs, sweep floors.

In the Church in York which was a bit crazy about peoples titles and all that malarky, the Vicar, David White, one said, ‘in this Church it is easier to find someone to speak in the pulpit than to clean it!’

Unless we grasp this “last being first stuff…being a servant of all” and the radically different world view that we are called to live in, where sometimes we have to gracious step back or step up in order not to be blessed, but to bless other people.

Mother Teresa said about these people wanting to ‘find the Holy Spirit’ travelling to Toronto, but weren’t prepared to cross the street to speak to a homeless person.

Be a blessing and God will sneak up on you and bless you, but that’s not why we bless people, we bless because we love them and we want ourselves to be more like Christ, and in blessing other people we worship Christ.

Yet Discipleship and walking in the way of Christ will cause your EGO some discomfort.

I think the problem is our EGO’s, which could be an acrostic for Edging God Out.

A challenge, think who can I serve and bless today?

Is there issues where I am willing to be last, so that Christ might be first? (As John the Baptist once said “I must decrease so he must increase”).

A message easy enough to write and read, but lets actually be this Christian Community which actually lives it out!

Let’s be people who are living lives of service, radically different from the world around us, that people might see Christ in us, our lives not making sense to them, but be beautifully attractive as Christ’s beauty shines out from us, hopefully without us even realizing it or noticing it.