Call – Opelika-Auburn News
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
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
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. + + +