Over the last several weeks we have explored practices and principles of daily life that make it possible for the kingdom of God to become more real and visible in our lives, as it was real and visible in Jesus’ life. We’ve talked about how citizens of that kingdom need to first and foremost love God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love their neighbor as themselves. We’ve explored ways to build our faith, and not feed our doubt. We looked at leaning on God who is our provision as the antidote for worry and fear.
Two weeks ago we examined the story of the feeding of the 5,000 men along with their women and children – the daunting assignment those first disciples had to begin distributing a very small amount of bread to satisfy the hunger of 10,000 or more persons. They had no training in multiplication of loaves. They had no real idea what would happen. It must have been a very anxious moment. Surely our powerful God could have multiplied those loaves before the distribution began, creating a mountain of bread so that they could just yell “Come and get it.” Instead they had to make a difficult decision to break off a piece of bread for the first family, not sure whether they would run out after the second or third, not knowing what Jesus would do when that happened. It was only after they took the first step that the miracle began to unfold. Don’t you know that was exhilarating? Realizing, bit by bit, that they were not going to run out? Seeing hundreds and thousands eat their fill, and more available to distribute? And finally, picking up 12 baskets of leftovers? How awesome that must have been!
The point for us is that we often face a moment of decision ourselves. God places upon our hearts an impulse to reach out, to help, to offer a kind word, to offer assistance even when we feel inadequate, under-qualified, untrained, and uncertain, but God waits until we take the first step to begin unfolding a miracle of healing or hope or possibility. I don’t know why God chooses to work this way, but it seems that God often does choose to work this way. It is up to us to take the first step.
We completed the series last Sunday as we looked at Jesus down on hands and knees washing the feet of his students and followers, and talked about giving ourselves away. What he did just was not done by those known as “teacher” and “Lord,” as his followers knew him. Most folks with that level of prestige and status would not have dreamed of endangering their stature and reputation by stepping out of their expected behavior pattern to take up work usually assigned to the lowest of the low. It would have been too threatening to stoop that far.
Jesus was able to do it only because his identity was not dependent on how others viewed him, or whether they liked him, or what they expected of him. His identity was rooted and grounded in God, from whom he came and to whom he was returning. He knew he had an eternal destiny in the creator of the universe. That certainty liberated him to step outside social norms with abandon to commit this radical act of self giving love.
Then he told his followers that he had set an example, that they were to do as he did, and wash each other’s feet. That means us, folks! And that means that our identity must be firmly rooted and grounded in our eternal destiny in God, from whom we come and to whom we return. We are not on our way from a question mark, hurtling toward an accident. We were knit together in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139) by almighty God. Every moment of our life, from before conception, has purpose and meaning and possibility. Our worth is not dependent on the assessment of those around us, who may find us wanting or judge us harshly. Our worth is dependent solely on God. And God thought we were worthy of his son living and dying to set us free.
So we can get down on hands and knees and wash feet. We can give up every privilege and right and entitlement, because our identity is held in God, not in man. We can give up our strong control and our need to have things our way, because we follow one who gave it all up for us; one who did not have things his way.
When we choose to do that, the kingdom becomes very real and very visible, in our hearts and in our lives.
May it become real and visible right here, right now, for Jesus’ sake.
Blessings and Peace