America, not so very long ago, practiced what was known as "full service."
There were full-service gas stations -- store employees would carry your groceries to your car and the milk man would deliver milk right to your doorstep. Today, however, we are more familiar with "self-serve" or "self service."
Self-serve. It's an interesting play on words. Is it really "service" at all?
Jesus had another standard. Jesus washed feet.
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You can't get much lower than washing sand and sweat from a traveler's feet after an all-day trek on the dusty, unpaved roads of Judea. Such dirty duty usually fell to a slave, not a savior. But Jesus wanted to leave us with an unforgettable snapshot of sincere service. (John 13:4-6)
Jesus washed those filthy feet on one of the most heart-wrenching days of his life. Within mere hours, he would face betrayal, brutality and a cross. His followers responded to it all by arguing about who was the most important among them. (Luke 22:24).
Sound familiar? Churches today still compare and compete, saying: "Jesus loves me best!" "No way!" "You guys are out to lunch, I'll be the one sitting closest to him!"
In spite of it all, and loving his disciples to the end, Jesus rose from supper, wrapped a towel around his waist, and set about washing dirty feet.
German pastor Dietrich Bonheoffer, shortly before his execution at the hands of the Nazis in Flossenburg concentration camp during April 1945, wrote, "The Church is only the Church when it exists for others."
When we serve in love, we are most like Jesus.
Bob Moffit amplifies my thought: "The most important part of the image of God inside of you is servanthood. We say the gospel is summarized in one word and that word is love. Go out and love. And how do you love? By demonstrating that love. By being a servant. What kind of servant? A sacrificial servant. We don't serve when we feel like it. We serve because it's the model that Jesus gave us."
It reminds me of the story about four pastors discussing the merits of the various translations of the Bible. One liked the King James Version best because of its simple, beautiful English. Another liked the American Revised Version best because it was closer to the original Hebrew and Greek. Still another liked a contemporary version because of its up-to-date vocabulary. The fourth minister was silent for a moment, then said, "I like my mother's translation best." Surprised, the other three men said they didn't know his mother had translated the Bible.
"Yes," he replied, "she translated it into life -- and it was the most convincing translation I ever saw."
You will never regret serving like Jesus.
Og Mandino says, "Treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend all the care, kindness and understanding you can, with no thought of reward, and your life will never be the same."
Please pass me the towel.
-- Rev. Micah Smith is president and founder of Global Gateway Network www.globalgaatewaynetwork.org with offices in Richland and author of Heaven's Heartbeat. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.