I’ve been spending more time in prayer. More time listening and evaluating my life. Some cold hard facts have surfaced that don’t cast a flattering light. Serving has always been a love of mine. At a very young age, I built homes for the poor on mission trips. The smiles on those people’s faces as we labored in the hot sun made it all worthwhile. As I got older, I taught in an innercity school district. Every week I spent endless hours grading papers and tutoring kids in order to reach what seemed like impossible goals all in the name of impacting the world.
So I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty good person, and then it hits me. I love to serve when it benefits me. That thank you or the smile that warms my heart makes serving valuable, but when I face serving someone who doesn’t appreciate it, even worse someone who detests me, all the enthusiasm deflates like air from a poked balloon.
I’m always amazed at how Jesus treated Judas, even though he knew from the getgo Judas would be an integral part of his earthly demise. And truthfully, that is a tangible reminder of Jesus’ purpose. It’s hard to see myself as Judas, but that is exactly who I am. I betray Him on a daily basis. My sins nail him to the cross – the same cross he endured for me. Wow. That kind of love makes helping someone out who wishes I’d move to another state seem like child’s play.
My son convicts me every day with his love for others. Last week I took him to the dentist, which is not his idea of a safe space, for his first cleaning. It took patience, a toy helicopter, and a LOT of coaxing to get him to even lay down on the table. The hygienist might as well have been torturing him for all the crying that ensued. Soon the minute amount of cleaning came to an end, and Samuel could play with the toys again. He took each toy to the hygienist, naming it for her. He hugged her repeatedly. “Oh we’re friends now,” she commented.
“Yes,” I responded. “He’s very forgiving. God’s trying to teach me through Samuel’s example.” The words stayed with me, and they continue to resonate. Just minutes before I spoke them my son writhed with discomfort at the hands of this woman. Not many people recover from that kind of trauma and desire a relationship with the provoker.
Fortunately for us, God does. He wants a relationship with us even when our lives defile the name Christian. And He put his money where his mouth was so to speak. He died to give us ungrateful wretches life. When called to serve others who do not enjoy me, I must force myself to remember that I am made in God’s image, and his reflection shows service with a smile for the most ungodly of us all.
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. – John 13