Washing Feet

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another?s feet” (John 13:14).
Do you laugh sometimes at the old-fashioned “fundamentalist” beliefs of some? We wonder at the simplistic interpretations of scripture that result in worship practices like foot-washing and the like. But does it ever occur to us that sometimes in rejecting these things as items of worship we go too far and forget the impact of the original teaching?
Have you ever had someone wash your feet for you in circumstances where, first, they needed it badly, and, second, you could not do it yourself? I had that happen last week on a visit to some river-side villages in Bangladesh. We arrived by boat (there are no roads into these villages; the only way in is by river or canal) at low tide and had to run the boat into the mud bank several feet below the high water mark. That meant we took our shoes and socks off, climbed out of the boat, and waded mud for thirty feet or more up to the dry bank of the river. A lot of that black, sticky mud accompanied us, caked on our feet and legs. As we stood on one foot beside a pool of water a villager washed the other, dried it on his own towel, and put sock and shoe back on. Then he gave the same treatment to the other foot.
In the debate over whether modern churches should hold foot-washing ceremonies in their worship, we forget the real point of what Jesus taught in John 13. Be a servant. Do for each other whatever mundane, humble act of kindness circumstance requires. If your brother’s feet are dirty, wash them. If some other need is found, meet it. None of us is too good, or too important to be a servant to others.
Jesus’ words are far too simple and powerful to be misunderstood. If he, our master and lord, can humble himself to serve us, who are we to refuse help to anyone else? The very definition of Christian is servant! We are to seek out those who need help, and give them that help. Pride, arrogance, and selfishness are totally out of place in his kingdom.
I was privileged to be reminded once again how humble and helpful a true Christian can be, and how welcome such simple acts of kindness are. May we all follow the example of our Lord, and serve others.

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Michael Brooks

Since 1988 Mike and his wife Brenda have been involved in foreign missions in South America, Africa, and South Asia. Beginning in 1999 they devoted full time to missions, primarily in Bangladesh and Nepal.

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