Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

March 16, 2014


All God’s children are called to be ministers


I was a grown man before I began to understand that all Christians are called to “the ministry,” not just preachers. And it was a Quaker, not a Methodist, who helped me embrace the idea that every Christian is a minister.

A Quaker philosopher, Trueblood helped me see that the word “minister” means much more than “preacher.” My eyes were opened to the biblical truth that every disciple of Jesus is called to engage in the ministry of Christ. The work of Christ is too great an assignment for ordained clergy alone. God’s plan is for all believers to live as Christ’s ministers no matter what their vocation.

We may enlarge the idea by changing the word “minister” to “servant.” Every Christian is a servant of Christ. All believers are called to live as servants of Christ. Combine the terms and we may say that every Christian is a ministering servant of Christ. The New Testament teaches us that Christians are expected to serve others in love.

In washing the dirty feet of his disciples, Jesus modeled the humble way he expects his followers to serve others. By washing the disciples’ feet Jesus got their attention. Peter was stunned, unwilling at first for Jesus to wash his feet. After Jesus explained what the washing meant, Peter was more than eager for the Master to wash his feet.

Jesus used the occasion to explain that he was setting an example for the disciples. He knew they would not soon forget what he had done. Washing feet was dirty work usually done by slaves. The disciples could hardly believe their eyes when Jesus picked up the towel and basin and began “serving” them. In doing so he was their servant. And he was teaching them how he wanted them to live.  

If you have ever participated in a “foot-washing” service, you know how uncomfortable it is to have someone wash your feet. It is a humbling and deeply emotional experience. The Spirit often moves people to tears as sins are confessed amid cries for forgiveness and reconciliation.

I remember a time when a woman in our group knelt in front of her husband, and washing his feet gently, asked forgiveness for her rotten attitude. After she returned to her seat, her husband knelt before her, and washed her feet with water and his own tears. He asked her to forgive him for all the ways he had hurt her for many years.  Needless to say, we “had church” that night. To witness two people forgiving each other is truly to see God at work. That is what church is all about.

 Trueblood has called Mark 10:45 “the most revolutionary verse in the Bible.” It is revolutionary because most of us are “control freaks.” We want to be in charge; we want others to serve us. We think we know how everything should be done and we need no advice from others about how to run the ship. Unlike Jesus, we have come to be served. Humble servanthood is not our game.

Yet we have no choice if we desire to be authentic followers of Christ. Those who follow him are servants of others. They wash feet, pure and simple. Washing feet is not an optional course for believers. It is part of the core curriculum for kingdom dwellers. Is that not the primary lesson we have learned from Albert Schweitzer and Mother Teresa? Both of them knew how to wash feet. They modeled humble servanthood.  

There are many ways to “wash feet.”  Jim does it by doing the weekly grocery shopping for a home-bound neighbor. Ron does it by being available 24-7 to a friend who is recovering from drug addiction. Susan does it by cooking and delivering meals for people who are home recovering from serious surgery. John does it by cutting the lawn for an injured neighbor who is no longer able to mow his own grass. Those who do it best find simple ways to share the love of Christ with their neighbors.

You might want to look around for someone whose feet you could wash. If you see no one you might need to ask Jesus to wash your feet. His “cleansing” often opens our eyes to the opportunities we have to wash feet as his humble servants. We make our Lord known by washing feet. Surely he is pleased when we follow the example he set for us. + + +