A Voice in the
Wilderness

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Re: May I Wash Your Feet?

"Brothers, if a man is overtaken in a fault, you the spiritual ones
restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering yourself,
lest you also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so you will
fulfill the law of Christ." (Gal6:1-2)

Recently a Brother in Christ, who writes to me periodically, shared a
joke. He thought it was funny. And indeed, had Jay Leno or Jerry
Seinfeld told it, their entire audiences would have laughed
uproariously. Trouble is, the punch line was a sodomite theme.

I made a simple reply to the e-mail... "That's not funny".

When asked, "why", I explained. "..it is a shame even to speak of those
things which are done by them in secret.." (Eph5:12) That as
Christians, we are not to be engaged in "..baseness, foolish talking,
jesting, which are not becoming..." (vs4)

This matter of living in the world can be rather trying on a Believer's
purity before the Lord. Peter writes of "righteous Lot" who was
"oppressed with the lustful behavior of the lawless". (2Pet2:7) Now if
we remember back to how Lot moved towards Sodom, he went there because
he lusted after the lushness of the land. (Gen13:10)  Even though we
live in the world, but are NOT "of" it, because our "citizenship is in
Heaven" (Phil3:20); as creatures of flesh and blood (1Cor15:50) we are
beset by the sin that surrounds us.

My response to this 'joke' stirred up memories of my own, "considering
myself" (Gal6:1b). While I could enumerate -many- of my own faults, in
this particular case I was reminded of a certain place I worked for two
summers during my college days. The kind of language that fills the air
in a boat manufacturing plant, typically every-other-word is a
profanity with sexual overtones. Being a Christian, I was the odd-ball.
I did not fit in. Fellow-workers, noticing the difference would tease
with sideways comments, and in some cases from the younger workers,
even overt suggestions of how they could "help" me, by offering to "set
me up". I did not participate in 'those' conversations. I did not laugh
at their jokes... so much so, that, at another similar job during lunch
break when the whole room thundered into laughs at somebody's joke, and
I didn't respond, someone piped up, "Hey, he's not laughing!"

Well... a Christian can be pure of heart in these things. But you know, 
the interesting thing I discovered: after a couple months of such 
continuous bombardment into one's ears, a strange thing would happen. I 
would actually start -thinking- those profane words. As one's mind 
continually works, as one thinks about this and that throughout one's 
conscious day, I found myself formulating thoughts, words...and in 
those thoughts, -I- was -adding- those same profane words to the 
thoughts in my mind... even though I never -spoke- them to anyone else.

Once I realized what I was doing, I took care of the matter with the
Lord.

In the next few days after this e-mail exchange, it suddenly dawned on 
me, another passage. You see, Paul speaks of "restoring" a brother. He 
speaks of doing so with "meekness". Why? Because we are all, 
individually, beset by our own faults. We cannot go to a brother with 
an attitude of "holier than thou". We are not called upon to "judge 
another's servant". (Rom14:4) We all will "stand before the judgment 
seat of Christ" as we "each one of us" gives "account concerning 
himself to God" (Rom14:10,12)

Sadly, I hear/read of some congregations who engage in what they call, 
"church disipline". If somebody is thought to be at fault for some 
questionable matter; not even necessarily of a more serious nature like 
adultery, theft, murder, etc; the 'church' will issue ultimatums. If 
the person hasn't "come around" to the thinking of the church 
leadership by some pre-set date of man's choosing, the person is
banished from the assembly. And they call it, "purging out the old 
leaven" (1Cor5:7)

But as I was thinking about the 'joke', suddenly a clear understanding 
of Jesus' words sank into my heart.

"If then I, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, you also
ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that
you should do as I have done to you." (Jn13:15)

There are some cult-like 'churches' who ritually conduct foot-washings 
in their meetings. They will wash each other's feet, and then they will 
observe the Lord's Supper. Just as Jesus never intended for people to
repeat, ritually, the words following, "Therefore pray in this way"
(Mt6:9) He said, "Therefore do not be like them.." the ones who "babble
vain words" repetitiously (vs8,7);  He also is not commanding to
ritually get a wash basin with water, and a towel, and -physically-
wash each other's stinky feet. The context makes it clear.

"He who is bathed has no need except to wash his feet, but is clean
every whit. And you are clean..." (Jn13:10)

This was another one of Jesus' object lessons. If a person was going to 
worship, or visit friends; he might bathe, put on clean clothes, and
then go. In that culture, walking along dirt roads, the dust of the
road would blow up around the feet and ankles, and cling. Once arrived
at the destination, one does not want to sit around with dirty feet.  
The person already bathed. Just... some dust got on the feet en-route.

As Christians, we are the "righteousness of God" in Christ. (2Cor5:21) 
We have the sealing (Eph1:13), anointing (1Jn2:27) and indwelling 
(Rom8:9) of the Holy Spirit.  But we have not yet 'reached' Heaven. 
(Phil3:12) We have not yet received possession of our prize. (vs13) We 
are "sojourners" (1Pt1:1) ON-OUR-WAY. As we are on our way, the "dust"
of the filth of this world swirls around and clings to our "feet and
ankles".

Women do this more than men...  if a lady sees a person in a dressed-up 
occasion, with a stray thread hanging out of their garment, or a smudge 
of some sort, they often go to the person and say something like, "You 
have this (problem)... here, let me take care of that for you". By 
implication, "-that- which you hadn't noticed..." And they will reach 
into their hand bag and get a scissors and "snip" the thread, or get a 
piece of tissue and "wipe" the smudge for the person.  The person is 
already showered and dressed nicely.  Only... "Here... let me get that
for you..."

We know that when Christ appears for us, we will be "like Him". But
until that day, we are engaged in 'purifying ourselves'. (1Jn3:2-3)
Taking care of those loose threads, smudges, dirt from having stepped
in that mud puddle.

So, you see, we "bear one another's burdens". (Gal6:2) If we see a
fault in another, we must make sure the 2x4 is out of our own eyes, to
see clearly. (Lk6:41) Jesus never said we shouldn't see to that "twig"
in our brother's eye. We are not his judge. But we are fellow burden
bearers. We don't take upon ourselves a self-assumed position behind
The Judge's (2Tm4:1) 'bench'.  But we come to the brother/sister with
wash basin and towel...

"May I, your humble servant... Wash your feet?"

Amen!