Monday, March 25, 2013

Wash and Witness

A first draft of a meditation written in preparation for Thursday evening worship.

Is there any attitude or action that could keep me from receiving the ongoing grace and love and forgiveness of God in my life? 

I've been asking myself that question because of Jesus' harsh words, spoken to Peter "on the night when he was betrayed": "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me" (John 13:8).  I invite you to do the same.

What it is that elicited Jesus' hard words?  What it is that can keep you from having a part of the inheritance that God desires to give us through what Jesus did on the cross?

The words that elicited the condemnation of Jesus came from Peter, the disciple who, unlike the others, can't seem to keep his mouth closed.  (I'm so thankful for Peter!  We learn so much from him!  Such a great witness!)

What did Peter say?  "Never shall you wash my feet."  "Never" he said.  "No way."

Thursday evening we will opening the Word of God so the Holy Spirit can give all of us at Crossroads a good going over.  Everyone is invited, but it's often only the folks who have been around church for quite some time that come.  So, for those of us who are long-time disciples of Jesus, His words to Peter have an added punch for us. 

So here are some things to consider:  What is your attitude toward the ongoing work of God in your life?  Are you willing to let Jesus continue to work on you, continue to "wash your feet," to continue to point out the aspects of your life that aren't all that clean?  When the Lord points out areas or sin or moments of sinful attitudes, words and actions, are you ready to confess your need of His every day sanctifying work?

God desires to keep us from ever getting hard and calloused in our relationship with him.  He wants to keep us soft toward Him, to allow our most sensitive areas to come under his close scrutiny.  The danger, it seems to me, is that we can develop a hard heart toward the Lord.  Even when we have been been walking with our Lord Jesus for a long time, even when you and I have given our lives over to our Lord and have had him change us repeatedly, there is still the possibility that we are saying "No" to him in one way or another.

It was Peter's stubborn pride, his unwillingness to allow Jesus to do what it is that he desired to do that brought out Jesus' stern warning.  It was a warning filled with grace, a warning that brought Peter to his spiritual senses once more, bringing Peter to a place where he wanted Jesus to wash him through and through.  Peter immediately responded: “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head."

That led to another correction from Jesus.  Jesus said: "He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all..."  (The "not all" refers to Judas, one who was, at least at that time, a fake disciple, someone who would soon betray Jesus to his death.) But when Jesus says he only needs to "wash our feet," he's telling us that all is not lost when we sin.  The First Letter of John tells us God's desire, that we not sin.  Then the Lord says, when we, as Christian people do sin, we are to confess and receive forgiveness.

Confession is a regular, normal part of the Christian life.  We should allow God to examine us and then cleanse us regularly.  But we aren't "lost" when we sin.  We can simply go to the Lord in prayer, confess our need of our Lord's cleansing, have him wipe us off and set us back on our feet, and resume our walk with the Lord.  Our Lord desires that this be a regular, every day part of our lives, so we don't ever get to think that we are self-sufficient, as long as we live.

So we allow Jesus to wash us of our sin every day.  This is a wonderful witness to the ongoing grace of God in our lives.  Allowing Jesus to kneel at our spiritual "feet," to allow him to clean us in those moments and in those areas that get dirty and stained with sin, that sort of regular washing keeps us in a good, humble place with him.  And when we let others know about the ways God is working on our lives right now, continuing his washing work, that is a great way to witness--that is, to let others know we are still in regular need of the grace of God.

So I am thankful for Peter's example, for his need to be washed, and for the witness that this provides.  My prayer as that all of us at Crossroads will continue to be open to this washing and witnessing work of God in and among us, for the sake of the world God loves so much, until our Lord returns to finally set us free.


I wrote this up as I've been preparing for worship at Crossroads that we'll be sharing at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday  I hope you can join us.  It's interesting how the Lord leads us to focus each year on different aspects of what Jesus did on "the night in which he was betrayed."  For more on this day, and for more on what had been planned in other years on this evening, you can click here.

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