Evangelicalism and Jesus’ Example of ServanthoodApril 6, 2013
“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. ‘You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.'”
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Jesus commanded LOVE. We love through SERVANTHOOD.
Jesus warned against SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS and HYPOCRISY. We become self-righteous and hypocritical when our love for religion/law causes us to neglect our love for one another.
What should Evangelicalism in 21st Century America look like? In a country where 75% of people consider themselves “Christian” and another 11-or-so% consider themselves former Christians who have rejected Christianity altogether, I’d say it’s safe to say that most have heard the gospel, yet many are left empty and hungry. In our fervor to further the kingdom, have we forgotten to get on our knees and wash feet? Have we neglected to meet people where they’re at and take care of their needs? We can preach Jesus, but when it comes down to it, are we being Jesus?
So what needs are had? What is hungered for? People desire to be loved, respected, related to and understood. People go through heartbreak, grief, addictions, abuse, and the consequences of bad decisions. There is no shame in using our own experiences with these things to relate to others. As a matter of fact, accusing our “brothers and sisters in Christ” of failing to be used by God when they relate to people on these levels is very nearly like the Pharisees scoffing at Jesus for hanging out with the tax collectors and sinners. It would be entirely fruitless to go to a poverty-stricken orphanage and fill the children’s soup bowls with “Jesus saves!” tracts. Sometimes it’s acceptable- and even necessary- to let explicit religious/gospel statements take a backseat to relating to the human condition and meeting needs.
Not to say that there’s not a time and place for preaching, but when evangelism replaces people in the forefront of our thoughts and motives, we succeed at preaching and fail to love. People should never become projects, business transactions, or means to an end. Jesus, by His great example, taught us how to minister in love. God himself humbled himself before his friends- he got on his knees before them- and washed their feet.