Saturday, March 22, 2008

December 3, 2007

A "God with God" moment:

The dark mornings (can you say 7:50?), the cold wet weather, and the last week of the semester stress tell us all; welcome to the Christmas season. So you might think that the final Monday Memo of the year would have a “Go with God” moment from Matthew 1 or Luke 2. I’ll let you read those passages on your own. As for me this week, I’ve been in John. I’m preparing a series of messages for next week from the Farewell Discourse of John (13-17) and was struck by a simple observation. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the ethical call which Jesus uses as the summary of Christian life is found in the Great Commandment, “Love God and Love your neighbor.” But that statement is not found in the Fourth Gospel. Now, this may come as a surprise because “love” is a key theme in John. We find God’s love for the world (3:16, 16:27); Jesus’ love for people (11:5, 36; 13:1, 23); the love of the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father (3:35; 5:20; 10:17; 14:31); but there is never a call for us to love God. What? It’s true, in John the call for us to love is not displayed vertically but horizontally. John says, “I give you a new commandment that you love one another (13:34-35). This so-called new commandment is given immediately after Jesus demonstrates “the full extend of his love” (13:1) as washes his disciples’ feet. The context is set when John says, “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love” (13:1).

So, if we are never called to love God directly in John, how are we to express our love for Him? Maybe a great starting point is to employ his teaching, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet” (13:14). Think of it this way, if you have love that you want to lavish on Jesus for all He has done for you, give it to the person right beside you. If you want to worship God, how about washing some feet? I would imagine that you might prefer to wash Jesus’ feet and you might actually knock people over on your way to get in line to wash His feet. But that is not an option He gives you. He washes yours (i.e., divine love); we then wash others.

So, Christmas is the perfect time of year to practice the “John Love Principle.” Maybe you are wondering what to get as a gift for your roommate, or for your significant other. How about an “IOU Foot-washing” gift card? I bet it will be a perfect fit, and the one who receives it will have no thought of returning it. Now of course, you may need to update the working model. Possibly instead of taking up a basin and towel you may put on an apron, take up a rake, but that is up to you. Remember two key ingredients; first, it should be humbling. Second, as you carefully choose the person you will give this gift to, Jesus washed the feet of Judas (his betrayer) and Peter (who denied him). You may do this for a friend, but pray seriously if the uniting of humility and love may be best found in a foot-washing for an enemy.

Nothing says “Merry Christmas” better than wet feet.

Lord Jesus,
You and the Father exchange this very kind of eternal love.
Thus, foot-washing is a divinely inspired tool.
May we learn to lavishly give love with joy.
May the recipients of our love for you rejoice.
May the Glory of the Lord shine ‘round about us
As we love one another.

Now, Go with God.

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