By Matteo Mortelliti, Pastoral Leader at the180
Are you skeptical of people who do nice things for you? I know I can be.
The detective inside me wants to question every motivation hidden behind random acts of kindness. Is this just a means of getting me to do something for you? A power play disguised in politeness? Part of the curse of living in sin-stricken world is that we find it difficult to receive a helping hand without assuming a hidden cost.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of when Jesus washes the feet of his disciples (John 13:1-17). I love this story because in it, Jesus makes possible what otherwise would be impossible: he makes a way for us to serve one another without conditions or selfish motivation. How? By inviting us to a place where the dirty and shameful parts of our lives are being washed away in his hands.
Today, Jesus is still seeking foot-washing moments with us all the time. And the only way we can ever serve like Jesus is by getting real with him and letting him serve us.
Peter’s reaction to Jesus washing his feet is common to us all: “Will you wash my feet?” I can hear myself think about all the things I need to do for Jesus. How I should be serving him, how I should be washing his feet. How there is no time for me to spend letting him wash my feet because there’s just so much to do in the world.
Meanwhile, Jesus, not lacking any intensity, as usual, responds to Peter: “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing” (John 13:8, MSG).
We cannot serve like Jesus until we let him serve us.
The scariest thing about serving as Christians is that we are at risk of serving each other without actually being part of what Jesus is doing. We might go on with our Christian lives thinking that we’re serving Jesus when we’re really serving ourselves. And serving in church simply becomes a means to serve our own vision rather than the larger vision that belongs to Christ.
The new life of unconditional love and service that Jesus offers to us can never be possible unless you and I let Jesus wash our feet. Until that happens, I will only be washing your feet with a chip on my shoulder that makes me feel good about myself and feeds my pride and my goals.
The questions we’re left with are these:
How are you making space in your life to let Jesus serve you?
How are you setting moments aside throughout your days and weeks to let Jesus kneel towards you and wash your feet?
What practical steps are you taking to get real with Jesus about your mistakes and your pain?
It’s in these uncomfortable moments of honest confession with Jesus that we begin to be loved back to health in such a way that allows us to serve like Jesus and with Jesus.
As we put together Serve Teams at the180, I believe that the only way we can ever become a community that serves like Jesus is by getting real with him and letting him serve us. I’m looking forward to see a culture of serving that is empowered and motivated by Jesus’ service towards us.
If you’d like to get started with a Serve Team at the180, there are many areas where you can serve, from kids to café, production, music or host. Please fill out the Serve Team form here and help us get to know you and your gifts.
If you’d like to talk more about what it means to serve, I’m always up for discussion and you can reach me at mortellitimatteo[at]gmail.com.
See you this weekend at the180 for Leadership Sunday, where we will talk about the important topic of where we got our Bible.