If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. John 13:14-15
I waited tables in college to make ends meet. It was decent money, but I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t like being the paid servant, living at other’s beck and call, pandering for tips. It was the worst when other college students would come in and I had to serve them. Why don’t they have to wait tables like I do? It injured my pride and made me realize that I didn’t want to wait tables forever. I wanted a job someday that commanded respect. I wanted to be somebody more important than a servant.
It was to this natural but dark side of me that Jesus spoke in today’s passage. In the story, Christ humbled himself to wash his disciple’s feet. The act is not one we’re culturally familiar with, but it apparently was very clear to everyone present that Jesus acted as a servant. Though they called him teacher and Lord, he lowered himself to wash their feet. As his followers, the disciples too, were commanded to serve each other.
This isn’t normal for us. We don’t inherently desire the humility of servitude. For most of us, it’s our nature to want to rule. To truly follow Christ though, and to find authentic life, he said we must abandon our way, following his example.
I had it wrong back in college. I thought the good life would be found in exalting myself in a position of authority. So, I followed my pride, appetite and nature, finding only addiction and misery in the end. I may be sober, but I continue to struggle with my pride. It’s still my nature to think that being a physician is about elevating myself. I only truly live as a disciple though, when I realize that being a physician isn’t about me. It’s about using what God has given me as an opportunity to follow his example, humbly serving those around me.
My nature may not like being the servant, but my nature has proven itself to be disastrous. If I want to enjoy faith and recovery, then daily, I must abandon my way, following Christ’s attitude and example, choosing to be a servant.