Taking Foot Washing Humility One Step Further

We often welcome guests to Good Samaritan by saying, “Good Samaritan is a good place to be. It is a good place to be on your spiritual journey.” I know that in my time in this congregation it has been a safe place for me to be on my own journey. The love and acceptance of this congregation has allowed me to ask questions and follow the path the Lord has set out for me. One of the surprising things about growing in faith is discovering the new places it will lead you. My own spiritual journeys has had a lot of ups and downs. My spiritual journey has taken me to places I didn’t expect.

For example, I thought the mature Christian was all about being humble and modest. Jesus humbled himself at the end of his earthly ministry when he took on the task of a servant. At the end of the passover celebration with his disciples he knelt before the disciples and washed each of their feet. It is a great symbol of humility and servanthood.

Jesus says in John 13, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”

His actions are the perfect contrast to the way the world celebrates and embraces pride and strength over humility and weakness. Two of my favorite quotes about humility come from Winston Churchill and Mohammed Ali.

When Churchill was referring to his political opponent, he conceded he was a modest man.

‘He is a modest man, but then he has much to be modest about!’ It was funny and served his purpose. Churchill was exerting his dominance and authority. It is an example of what politicians still do better than anyone else. They put down their opponents so they can lift themselves up.

I’m old enough to remember hearing another great quote about humility. It was the brash young Muhammad Ali who said, “It’s hard to be humble, when you’re as great as I am.” It was part of a much longer oration about how great he was. Out of context it is easy to be critical of this, but at the time, I believe it had more to do with standing up to racial and religious bigotry then it was about a superiority complex.

So when we encounter Jesus on his knees washing the dirty feet of his disciples, it serves as a antidote to the way the world promotes self service over service to others. And if this is where your spiritual journey leads you, then you not in a bad place. We could all, and I include myself in this, learn the importance of humbly helping our neighbors with their needs.

It is powerful spiritual exercise. Each day try to be aware of the many people around you and their needs. Then find a way to help someone else with something they really need. If I can learn to do that on a regular basis, then I will know I am growing in faith.

But it isn’t enough. The journey from the celebration of self, egotism and conceit isn’t really complete until we take it a step further. Helping others is true humility. But I think there is more.

The next step for me wasn’t about just finding ways to serve others more often or better, the next step came from the recognition that my spiritual journey and my service to others really isn’t about me. Serving others so that I can be a great servant is close to God’s plan for my life, but not the final goal.

The Lord is guiding me on a spiritual journey to teach me that it really isn’t about me. Rick Warren who is a mega Church pastor and author of the best seller, Purpose Driven Life says it well. “True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” Working hard to be humble so that I will be an even better Christian is a fallacy.

My Christian journey is trying to lead me to a place where I can realize it isn’t about my Christian journey. It is about the joy and the sense of purpose that comes from being the servant of others for other people’s sake.

Be at peace,
The best is yet to be,
Pastor Ed

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