I’m going to invite you this morning to John chapter 13. John 13 is where we’re going to be. And I’m going to let you know as we get to John 13 that I am only going to look at the first five verses today. I told you last week that this section of the Gospel of John is some of my favorite portions of all of Scripture. In fact, I would probably say it is probably my favorite portion in all the Bible. John 13 to John chapter 17. Because this is the last six hours of Jesus’ life before he goes to the Cross. He chooses to spend these last six hours in the most intimate of settings, and he teaches some of the most profound things that I think that we can discover as Jesus followers and what it means to pursue Christ with our lives.
And I want to start off by asking a question before I look at this text. What would be the first thing that you would do if all authority and power was given to you? Now some of you are deep thinkers, so you’re like, “Well, I’ve never been given this before so let me ponder. Can I get back to you on that?” And that’s fine. Some of you might have just fired off something right off the top of your head. “I’ve got all the authority and power, I’ve got plenty of time to do lots of things. Firstly, it would be this.” Right? But if all authority and power are given to you, what would be the first thing that you would do?
It’s an important question because I think it’s also a mark of a disciple. And I think answering that question will help us really start to determine what is healthy leadership? What is good, Godly, healthy leadership? What is it really to be a disciple of Jesus? So, all authority, power given to you, what would be the first thing that you would do. And I hope by the end of this lesson, maybe early in this lesson, that you can at least give a Biblical answer. And my desire is that your heart would also want to accomplish that Biblical answer. Not just give me a good Jesus answer, but to make your heart resonate with that answer too. That is my goal for today.
But to answer that question, what we want to do is to look at what Jesus did. And you know what Jesus did? Verse 3, let’s look at this together. John chapter 13, verse 3. “Jesus, knowing that the Father had handed all things over to him …” Some of your translations will go ahead and interpret that as, all authority and power over to him. “And that he had come forth from God and was going back to God. He got up from supper and laid his outer garment aside. And when he had taken a towel, he tied it around himself. And then he poured water in the basin and began washing the disciples’ feet, and wiping them with a towel which he had tied around himself.” When Jesus was given all authority and power, do you know the first thing it recognizes for us that Jesus does? Jesus, and this is the blank in your notes if you grabbed the notes this morning, Jesus served others. He served.
Now, how many of you were thinking on that kind of plane? All authority and power for me, you know what I’m going to do, right? And then all of a sudden, you look at Jesus’ example, what you see Jesus is doing is Jesus served others. And here’s the interesting thing about this action that Jesus does for us, guys. If you just read a little bit further on and you just look at verse 14, just a quick comment. I want us to see this together for just a minute. But look at what it says. “If I, the Lord, the teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash the feet of one another.” Out of all of the Gospels, out of all of the stories that are written about Jesus, all the lessons that Jesus taught, do you know this is the only time in the Gospels where Jesus says, “Mimic me.”
Interesting, that Jesus goes through this sort of an act, and then he gets to the end of this act and he says, “Out of all the things that you’ve seen my do, this is the one act that I want to be crystal clear I want you to mimic me.” Now, there are parts of the Gospels where Jesus teaches parables and he says, go and do this.” Right? Or, do as you’ve just learned from this parable. But this is the only time in the Gospels where Jesus says, “Mimic this behavior. I want you to do this right here.”
And so when you think about what Jesus is representing for us, this is a very powerful thought that Jesus is communicating, a very powerful action that Jesus is communicating to his disciples, because most of us I think if you’ve studied Scripture, you know how profound this section is. Because this position that Jesus takes during this dinner with his disciples in the upper room, this is the position of a servant. I mean, this is the first act of hospitality when a dinner guest would gather to your home. In Jesus’ day, maybe not everyone had shoes. The people that had shoes, they wore sandals. When you’re walking the streets in Jesus’ day, these streets are made of dirt. And the things that travel on these streets are not vehicles, they’re animals that people ride on and ride beside and ride behind. Animals walk the street with people, and when animals walk the street, animals leave evidence of their presence.
I remember when I first moved to Lehi, I would tell people I was from Lehi … This is a nice place for me. Beautiful mountains and things. But when I told people I was from Lehi, people treated that kind of strange. I know if you’ve recently moved here, Lehi’s been exploding. There’s lots of things going on in Lehi. But back in the day, Lehi was like a country Western town that people just kind of left alone. It was considered like … They were the Western, cowboy riding, that was this town. It still is to a degree.
But I remember when I first moved here, and the first year they had the Lehi Roundup. And they had the horse parade. We just had Lehi Roundup not too long ago, they had the horse parade. And there was a time I felt like that when the horse parade happened, there were more people in the parade than watching the parade because there were that many people that owned horses in this town. And when they would say, “It’s time for horse parade,” I wouldn’t even know where these horses came from. It’s like, you’ve got 17 hiding in your backyard. And the whole family, because that’s how big families are, they would jump on these things and ride to the horse parade. And it was weeks of just shoveling poo all over our streets. And that gave me a little bit of insight to what it was like on Jesus’ roads in Jesus’ day, because living in an agricultural society, everyone’s got animals.
And so when you were walking those streets day-in and day-out and you’re doing it either barefoot or you’re doing it in sandals, you’re going to get a lot of gunk on your feet. And so the first act of hospitality when someone would show up to your home for dinner was to wash their feet. And it wasn’t just the job of a servant to wash someone’s feet. If a home had multiple servants, they would choose the lowest of servant to do this deed, because this was the dirty deed. We’re going to talk a little about next week, there are even churches today that observe this as a part of their faith. They regularly wash feet. And I’m going to tell you, that ain’t happening here, and definitely not during this. No one’s touching my feet and I ain’t touching any of your feet, but what we want to consider here is just the idea that Jesus is communicating towards us in how he’s carrying himself in this world. All authority and power. And what does he choose to do? The servant of servants.
It’s a beautiful picture of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. It’s a beautiful picture of the Jesus that you follow. What a heart of a servant. And I love the way Jesus does this, because in verse 14 he tells us to mimic. But before he tells us to mimic, he’s willing to do it himself. And that’s the mark of a good leader. A good leader is not willing to ask of people what they themselves aren’t willing to give.
And before Jesus tells us to do anything, he demonstrates his own heart in how he serves and tells us as his followers to be the kind of people that duplicate this sort of behavior in the world. Jesus models servanthood. We could even say it like this, metaphorically, as we think about what it means to wash feet. That’s not a custom I don’t think any of you may practice when people visit your home. Maybe you do. I don’t know. I’d like to hear about that if you do. And I would say maybe in our culture I would more phrase it like this. If you’re not willing to pick up a plunger, then you shouldn’t be willing to take the spot of a leader. Because Godly leadership is represented by those kinds of people, that kind of a heart. And Jesus sets in example for us that speaks volumes about his confidence and his position, and his identity and his character, and his leadership to the point that I would describe it like this for us.
And this is another blank in your notes, that secure leaders are into towels, and insecure leaders are into titles. Insecure leaders need you to tell them how great they are. But secure leaders already know who they are. And that’s why they’re able to serve. That’s what makes humility such an important part of God’s people. It’s because we’re not running around this world looking for people to affirm us. I don’t need you to tell me how great I am. I’ve already got a God that’s given me worth far beyond what anyone else might tell me about myself. And I only have to find my identity within myself. Because there is a God outside of me who created me for a purpose that’s not really found within me, but it’s found within Him. And so the answer to my value, my meaning, my worth in this world is not by looking deeper in me, because I didn’t make me, but in Him. And the more secure I become in my identity in Jesus, the better I am in going to lead and serve for Jesus.
Secure leaders are into towels, insecure leaders are into titles. Or, I could say it like this. Secure leaders, give me another click, are people-conscious, insecure leaders are position-conscious. Secure leaders are able to bless others because they’ve already found themselves securely wrapped up in their identity and who God is. Insecure leaders need that position to affirm them. Make me important by giving me a place that makes me feel important. Because I think when it comes to leadership, leadership is not about titles. I think sometimes we fall into the façade of feeling like we’re important because of the title that we carry. But great leaders understand just because you have a tite, doesn’t make you a leader. What makes a leader is influence. And that’s what makes our lives incredible no matter where we are in this world, no matter what position you hold, that you don’t have to have a title to make a difference for Jesus. All you need to recognize is how important it is, your influence for Christ, and you use and leverage that position to make a difference in the lives of others.
And that’s what Jesus is saying. It’s what made him such an incredible leader. That’s what Philippians 2 says about him. Though being in the form of God, he found at nothing to be grasped or that equality to run around and proclaim, but simply he made himself the form of a servant. Philippians chapter 2 verse 3-8 talks about that. And he says that you go out and mimic this in life. But Jesus, any time he walked in the room he was automatically the most important person in the room. But you know what Jesus didn’t demand? As soon as he walked in the room that everyone recognize him and his title and his position, that he would be the most important person in the room. But rather, he understood more important was his ability to influence.
There are plenty of people in this world with titles that make little difference in influencing the lives of others. And then there are plenty of people in this world that have no title but have a tremendous effect on how they influence others. And how do they do it? They carry the heart of a servant. And why do they carry the heart of a servant? Because they have found themselves secure in Jesus. This is why it’s so important for us to walk confidently in answering these questions. I know who I am. I know whose I am. I know where I come from. And I know where I am going. Why? Because of him. Because of him.
As people, we are not comfortable with ambiguity. We like to define things and label things and put things in the position to help our minds wrap around it. We want to make things more black and white. We’re not real comfortable in the gray. And I think you see that in the world today. The world is looking for identity, and there are different places in life that are screaming at them, “We’ll accept you, find your identity here.” People are not comfortable with ambiguity, and so they listen to the world just to find a place of acceptance and learn to belong. And that makes your position so important in Jesus. Because as you find yourself confident in that, then in that security it gives you a place to be able to serve others because you’re not looking for them to affirm you. You’ve already been affirmed in the Lord. And so you can take the position of a servant, and a servant is able to influence.
So, what would be the first thing you would do if you were given all authority and power? Second, let’s look at this. Why is it important to serve? Why is it important to serve? And I want to give you two answers. Here’s the first one. This is the next blank on your notes. It’s important to serve because one, you need help. You need help. And that’s a weird way to think. Why am I serving? Because I need help. That is the opposite. Maybe this pastor has lost his mind and someone needs to communicate. Why would I serve because I need help? That is backwards, right? But you think about what the opportunity to serve represents for you. The opportunity to serve provides you an outlet to express where your maturity is in Jesus. Without a place to serve, you have no outlet to express what God has done in you. And therefore, no ability to determine how your spiritual development is going.
When I look at the heart of a servant here, I can say maybe sometimes in my life that if I were to just try to portray Jesus in all instances, there are time where I do it okay and other times where I do it begrudgingly. I look at Jesus, and he’s got so much joy. And then I look at me and I realize sometimes my heart is like, I do it because I have to, not because I really wanted to. But that gives me an outlet to discover the health of my own heart and the way I live for the Lord.
I need help. I need that outlet. It’s the expression of understanding, the wellbeing of my own position in Christ. Am I even serving at all? And what’s the motivation behind why I’m doing it? It’s because I’m guilted by this? Or is it because I have a genuine walk with Jesus where God is transforming my life, and I want a place of expression to the goodness of who he is? I love the way Ephesians chapter 8, 9 and 10, “For by Grace you save through faith, not yourselves, is the gift of God. Not of works lest anyone should boast for you are created in Christ Jesus for good works.” That’s what it says in verse 10. You are created in Christ Jesus for good works. Verse 8, 9 talks about the grace of God transforming my life not by works but by what he’s doing in me by His miraculous hand.
And then it says as God’s doing that, I’m created in Christ Jesus for good works. And it’s a beautiful description in Hebrew because what it says is that the artist is looking at me as a canvas and he’s working his masterpiece. And I get the outlet of expressing what the master has done within me. Not out of guilt. This is not a place where we drive people out of guilt. This is a place where we drive our expression out of worship and connecting with our Creator who would love us to such a degree that we can proclaim His love to others in this way. That same love that transformed my life now desires to work through me and transform other people’s lives, and I get to be a part of that.
And that is incredible, and that is beautiful because when I think about what God has done to me, who I was before Jesus, but now who I am because of Jesus. It’s a miracle that I don’t want just to stay in my own heart but just to be experienced in the lives of others.
You need help. I need help. And serving is a means to express that I have found my purpose in him. I am living beyond a purpose that’s just for me, but a purpose that’s greater than me. Because here’s the way the world describes it. You want to find worth, value, meaning, look deeper in you. Look deeper in you. And then you’ll look at everything in this life in that way has to serve you so that you could look deeper in you, because that’s where we think that we find our meaning. But when we find it beyond ourselves through him, and when we experience the way that he transforms us and how he calls us our own, and we know who we are because we know whose we are and we know where we come from, but now even more confidently we know where we’re going because of him. Serving becomes that place that communicates that I have found my worth beyond me. And serving says to us, there is nothing more important than the glory of God. And you get to relate and express that in the world.
So, one, you and I need help. Number two, everyone needs help. Now, the reason Jesus came to serve is because there is a tremendous need. You want to find a great purpose in life, find a great need in life. And there is nothing more important than the souls that God has created in this world. And every soul has a tremendous need to find its identity in God. That’s why Jesus, get this, has the title Savior. It’s because he’s the great rescuer, the deepest need of our lives to be connected to our Creator and find identity. Everyone has need, and we’ve got a place in this tremendous need to share an even greater purpose that transcends the need and finds identity in him. Everyone has need. And when I say need, I don’t just mean they need you to feed them because they’re hungry. Or they need you to fix their tire because it went flat. I mean, their soul has a need.
Because what you truly believe will determine how you behave, always. What you believe will always determine how you behave. Actions speak what really rests in our hearts. And people have a deep need, more than just a [inaudible 00:19:28], more than something fixed, their soul has need. And God has called us to help them find the meaning for their existence in Him. And so serving provides that platform because people have a need.
I mean, think about this. Parents, if you’re raising kids, or parents of kids. Let’s say it like that. The world right now … Let me back up before I say the world. Everyone in this world is being discipled. Everyone in this world is being discipled by something or someone. Everyone. Something right now is working to conform or transform your heart. Everyone. And you think about as a parent with children, there is a world out there constantly beating a drum for the heart of your child. This is where you find purpose. This is where you find meaning. This is where you find value. This is where you find worth. And it is relentless. Every day, every day just a consistent beat.
But then, while the world beats its drum, there’s also the Gospel. And the Gospel plants those seeds of, this is where you find your worth. This is where you find your meaning. This is where you find your value. This is who you are in the eyes of God. And those seeds planted, they will produce a fruit. The question is, what fruit will it produce? And it’s based on what seed is planted. All day long, the world’s message. And what goes in the heart of your child? Let me think, if the world has shared a message with your kid all day long, seven days a week, and all we’ve invested in our children is one Sunday for 30 minutes they hear a lesson, whose voice do you think is winning? How precious is that soul to God? How important it is for you as a parent to understand confidently who you are, whose you are, where you’ve come from, and where you’re going. Because your confidence in that produces a fruit in you. And that fruit can share that seed with your child.
Proverbs 4:23 says it like this, “Watch over your heart with all diligence for from it flows the springs of life.” How important your heart be nurtured in the truth. How important your position as a parent, to nurture that heart in your child. We don’t like walking this world in ambiguity, in the gray. We need that confidence, and the world is screaming with different messages to find identity. What kind of message do you share at home? What consistency do you show to your family? What kind of service is displayed in the way that you poise yourself? Or are you the one that kneels to wash the feet.
Like Psalm chapter 1, I think … Oh, 27. We’ll do this. Psalm 1:27, I may not have Psalm 1 on here. Psalm 1:27, I love this. “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.” Love this picture as being a parent, if I just continue to harp on this example for a minute. You think about what it’s saying here. Like, if you’re a parent, you’re a warrior. And I think that is a beautiful way to display parenting. Because there are days like it’s the end run, I have fought a battle, I don’t think I won today. It’s the heart of a warrior. But then it shapes the picture of a child being an arrow. And here’s what you do, warrior. When you shoot the arrow, you’ve got to determine what’s the healthy target. That’s your goal as a parent.
I’m thinking about the future of my child. And let me just tell you, when we think about planting seeds of the Gospel in your kid, this is not something I’m saying, “Hey, just figure out which seed and just one time go plant that, and this will bring this kind of harvest.” That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying just every day in your life, just be consistent. 10 minutes a day, devotion with your family. Plant a seed. Plant a seed.
If you’ve got the Bible app, and you open up and scroll to the bottom, they even have now … It’s incredible. I do this sometimes when I get lazy and I’m tired at night. If you scroll down, you’ll see a devotion for kids. It’s a 10-minute video. Every day, they post one for you. You don’t have to do anything. You can just hold it above your head, say, “Let’s watch this.” Literally. And then after you’re done, just talk about it. It’s that simple now. Just planting those seeds to talk about Gospel-centric things in your family because their identity is so, so precious. In the hands of a warrior, you’ve been given this arrow to send in a target that communicates to them vitality and health that will bear forth fruit for the rest of their lives and the goodness of who they are in Christ.
I’ll say, you can’t modify their behavior as a parent. Sometimes that’s hard, and sometimes you want to just be their Holy Spirit and be that conviction for them, and you can’t do that. But you can carry the heart of a servant. And the heart of a servant understands the importance of influence.
How about this, I have Romans 10 up here. Give me another click. There we go. “How, then, are they to call on him whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him who they have not heard? And how are they to hear without someone to preach, someone to proclaim that truth?” How important that position is for us, that we would help people connect to Christ, see their hearts formed in Christ and then live on mission for Christ again. Your child’s soul, precious to Christ, the most important thing about them, is their soul. And the way that you lead that, the responsibility before the Lord, how, how important.
Next question. How far are you willing to go? How far are you willing to go? Jesus had all the power in the world. He could have used it to promote himself. He could have used it to build an empire, to elevate a career, to make more money, and what does Jesus do? Look at this. John chapter 13, verse 1. Look what it says for us. “Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that his hour had come, that he would depart from this world to the Father, having loved his own who are in the world, he loved them to the end.” Jesus, to the end, remained consistent to who he is. Because you think about what it means to be a follower of Jesus, let me just give you one component that I think is essential. And I know that we fail at this in our lives because while he’s consistent, we’re inconsistent. But, loyalty. Loyalty is an important part of the Christian life.
And when I think about the story in Jesus, the Cross is God’s symbol of loyalty to you. Intentionally and urgently pursuing us, and never doing anything different. He just remained consistent until the end, even to the point where his own life now, his own life is coming to an end. At some point, I’m just thinking for me, just leading to a crucifixion … At some point I got to think that I would start thinking about people around me and be like, “Guys, think about me for a second.” But not Jesus. Until the end, always thinking about others. Consistently giving his life, it’s a beautiful picture, guys, a goal for us and what we should pursue as being a disciple is just think about the end goal of living for Jesus now but to be that kind of life just to the dying breath. I gave my heart for Christ.
I gave my heart for Christ. I know using the example for parents and kids, when we think about what’s being invested in your child and the seeds that are being poured into your child from the world and what you can put into your child, maybe you think about the inconsistency as being a parent, how you’re not always delivering that. And you start to panic. Let me just tell you this because I think as people, sometimes we overestimate what we can do in a short period of time, and we underestimate what we can do in a long period of time. Sometimes when we make our to-do list for the day and you find out that you can only get, like, 20% of that done, but it’s pretty incredible when you look back over your life and you see with just a consistent goal what you can accomplish over a duration of time.
When we think about influencing others, it’s not about with this huge demand coming in and just shaking them and saying, “Do what I tell you to do. This is so important.” But it’s about consistently living the importance of what you’re saying every day. A few times a week, having some devotions at the end of the night with your kids, having some intentional conversations around the dinner table. And just do that. Make that a perpetual part of your family identity and your kids will start to grasp the importance of it even as they become adults. Just living that consistency over time, and it’s important. It’s like even in your own life, if you meet with Jesus every day … And I hope you strive for that. Make it a goal every day to take some time to meet with Jesus.
And I know here at the church, we put out yearly Bible readings at the end of this year. There’ll be another chance if you’re interested in yearly Bible readings, we’ll advertise that and say, “Jump on board. Jump on board.” But usually, when we do this kind of thing, I actually am not a huge fan of yearly Bible readings. If you’ve never read the Bible, it’s important to do, learn the consistency of reading the Bible in your life. But the reason I don’t like it is because for me, it becomes just getting through the chapter. Got to read the chapter. Today is this chapter, got to read this chapter. But I think more important than just that, if you don’t have a discipline of reading the Bible, do that. I think it’s good. But I think more important than that is just to sit down with God’s Word and say to yourself, “I’m not going to get up until something from this blesses me and gives me a thought that I can just meditate internally through the day. Some thought that resonates with my soul that I can just reflect on.”
And when you’ve done that every day, after 365 days you’ve got a lot of stuff that you’ve learned about the Lord in order to allow His image to be conformed in you. And number two, Jesus stayed consistent to the end. That was first answer to how far are you willing to go. And number two, this thought should blow us away I think more than any other. This is the thought when I’m hearing, oh, this is the verse that undoes me. “During supper, the Devil, having already put into the heart of Judas, the son of Simon, to betray him.” And let me tell you why this verse undoes me. Because the next verse is the verse that tells us, “And then Jesus got up from the table and he washed the feet of the disciples.” And what this tells me is that Judas had his feet washed by Jesus at that table, when Jesus knew Judas was going to be the one that betrayed him. Jesus washed the feet of Judas. That is an incredible leader.
And when you think, guys, he says in verse 14, “Now mimic me.” This is a powerful story in the life of a disciple. And how in the world could you ever expect to do such a thing with such a servant heart, less you be completely confident in who you are in Christ? Who washes the feet of their enemies?
And you know what’s amazing about this story? When you read it, it doesn’t say, “And when Jesus got to Judas, he scrubbed extra hard.” Or, it doesn’t say, “And when Jesus got to Judas, he put him in an excellent ankle lock.” I mean, that would probably be our struggle, but it just communicates for all the disciples with love and compassion. He even washed the feet of Judas. And guys, this is so important and helpful for all of us. Because one, it teaches us how to treat our enemies. And it teaches us how to love people that we have a difficult time with. And let me just …
Maybe if I give you an example like this. I’m going to be political for just one minute, okay? And I’m not saying everyone agrees with this, but you go through an election, some people are excited about who wins, other people are not happy about who wins. For those of you that aren’t happy about who wins let me just ask you, when’s the last time you prayed for your president? When Jesus calls you to wash feet, metaphorically. And he is a leader, and a leader has certain powers, and that power makes a difference in the lives of people. When’s the last time you cared enough to pray for your president?
And Matthew 5:44 tells us to pray for our enemies. So, if you find yourself in a place of disdain for any kind of leadership, whether it be president or whoever, it’s an important check in the life of a disciple just to ask yourself, “When’s the last time I prayed for them?” Wash their feet in the spiritual sense, right? One, it teaches us how to treat our enemies when you see this passage, but two, I think it also teaches us that even personally, I’m never too far from Jesus. I am never too far from Jesus. Jesus, even in these final moments, even when he knows Judas is going to betray him, he’s faithful to the end. And he never stops loving Judas.
I think this was probably a very important lesson for Peter, because we know Peter is about to deny Jesus to his faith as Jesus gets ready to be crucified. And this would have been a story that Peter could have looked back on and be like, “You know what? If Jesus was willing to love Judas to the end, knowing that Judas was going to betray him, then I’m never too far from Jesus. And Jesus loves me.”
Let me give you just a few concluding thoughts as we close here. Because when I think about the importance of the story, there is no mistake what is important to Jesus, and what he is calling us to model. What’s important to Jesus is people to the point that he gave his life. He faithfully loved to the end, and he calls us to model this, to serve. And if the heart of Christianity is service, situations that shape the spirit of a servant are worthwhile. And you look at this, Jesus’ example is particularly challenging because when I think about these disciples, none of these disciples are worth having their feet washed from Jesus. None of them. None of them. But Jesus did it anyway. And Jesus was even willing to wash the feet of Judas, calling us to mimic the same too. God doesn’t tell us to love those who deserve it, or to serve only those who serve us back. Jesus simply calls us to serve.
So, when you ask where you can model this, how about this. What if you’re in a marriage where you’re giving but you’re not getting, or it’s difficult. You have a place … I know we don’t want anyone’s marriage to be difficult, but you’ve got a place to model Jesus and to grow leaps and bounds because you’re understanding the same thing that Jesus did for you by modeling service in adversity in your own life. You’re probably more connected to your Creator when you serve in hardship than anything else that you do. Those places give us opportunity, I think, to know Jesus more deeply. Or with your children, as a parent, helping your kids to become all that God has called them to be by planting a seed. As the world pounds this seed you have opportunity to not see them conform by the world but to help them find their identity in Jesus so that they are transformed in him because their souls are so precious in his identity. What about this? What about your neighbor? Maybe more particularly, the Judas on your street, how you love them.
I reflected on this this past week. What does this mean for me as a pastor? I tried to find a concise way that I felt like could express the heart, the desire I carry for the body of Christ. And not just the body of Christ, but into my family as well. I feel like Jesus really, if I simplify my life, he’s got two callings for me: to teach the Bible, and to love my family. And when I think about what it means to live that life Jesus has called me to do, as I see his life here, I think categorically I want to phrase it like this in my life. I don’t want to be a leader of servants. But rather, I want to live my life as a servant of leaders until the end.
God, how can You help me, in whatever position I am, to help God’s people become who You’ve called them to be? You do something miraculous in their lives by transforming them. They are the canvas for what You are painting, Your beauty in their lives. How can I get beneath them to help them live the way for which You have designed them and gifted them and called them in You? And the same for my family. How can I help my wife and kids not to be a leader of servants but to be a servant of leaders? Because that’s what he did. That’s who he was. He didn’t walk in the room and demand this position above everyone and tell them what to do, but he took the position beneath everyone to help them become who God had called them to be. Leadership is about influence. Being a disciple is about influence.
And let me just say this at the end. As you kneel to do what God has called you to do, first surrender your heart to be who God has called you to be. That’s so important. As you do what God has called you to do, make sure first you surrender your heart to be who God has called you to be. And here’s why this is important. This separates the difference between what it means to be really, I think, a Christian, or just be caught up in religion. Christianity is about relationships. Christianity is driven by you knowing God intimately. If all you do is read this page, or read this section of Scripture, and do what Jesus has called you to do, you can completely miss being who Jesus has called you to be. And that only happens through a relationship with Jesus.
Now, when you walk in who Jesus has called you to be, it’s so much more healthy than to do what God has called you to do. Because the reason you’re doing what God has called you to do is because of your identity in Christ. Strengthen your identity to serve in a healthy way. And this is why I say this. It’s not always easy. It’s not always easy. I got to think out of all the hard things I read in Scripture, probably one of the more difficult ones has to be that Jesus washed the feet of Judas. That is not easy. But I think the reason Jesus did it is because he clearly understood who he was. And he could be who he was called to be, and therefore do what he was called to do.
You know, looking in the stories of the Bible, people like Abraham or Moses or John the Baptist, Abraham once said through his seed would come countless more. More people than the sands of the shore. But do you know how many kids Abraham had in that promise? One. One. And God’s telling him, you’re going to have so many kids, there’ll be more than the sand of the sea. And he’s got one kid. I mean, that takes a lot of … Or what about Moses. You read the story of Moses, and Moses is called to set the Children of Israel free from slavery into their new identity in God, from slavery to the Promised Land. But the story as its told is Moses wanders for 40 years, and he never even gets to step into the Promised Land. He only sees it from a distance.
What about John the Baptist? Called to proclaim the coming of Jesus, yet ends his life in prison and he’s ultimately beheaded. That is not easy. That is not easy. And so just following after Jesus doesn’t mean things are easy. And so the place that we find ourselves settled in as people is the identity of who we are. Be who God has called you to be, as you do what God has called you to do. That’s the only way we serve, as healthy Jesus followers, is to be secure in him.