How Clean Are Your Feet?
I have attended and/or participated in a few foot washings during my walk. While those who organized them attempted to capture the spirit of the foot washing Jesus did with His disciples, underneath it all, for me at least, much of it seemed to be really nothing more than a display of false humility. I believe Jesus had something much deeper in mind when He washed His disciples' feet than what usually goes on in the ceremonial Christian foot washing.
The sermon or message that usually accompanies a traditional Christian foot washing service points out that the task of washing another person's feet during Jesus' time and culture usually fell to the lowest member of a household, most often a servant or a slave. So when Jesus volunteered to wash the feet of those under Him, that is, His disciples, He displayed in Himself the way He wanted His disciples to behave when they became leaders:
"When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. 'Do you understand what I have done for you?' he asked them. 'You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.'" (John 13:12"16, NIV. See also Matt. 20:25"28; Matt.23:8"12)
This passage of Scripture verifies the understanding that Jesus used the foot washing as an example to His disciples regarding how to rule. But as with most of Jesus' examples, stories and parables, there are usually layers of truth; the best layers often hidden from the eyes of those who do not appreciate the deeper things of God.
We note that Peter had a hard time allowing Jesus to wash his feet:
"He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, 'Lord, are you going to wash my feet?' Jesus replied, 'You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.' 'No,' said Peter, 'you shall never wash my feet.' Jesus answered, 'Unless I wash you, you have NO PART WITH ME.'" (John 13:6"8, NIV)
Wow, strong words! Why such a strong rebuke? And why would Jesus tell Peter that he did not really understand what He was doing? He explained it to him, didn't He? Obviously there is something more to this story.
His disciples at that time did not realize that soon they would actually become a part of the body of Christ. THIS is the mystery they would not understand until after the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost. They would be joined to him through the Holy Spirit. They (as well as all born from above believers) would become the FEET of the corporate body of Christ. After the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, God would once again walk this earth – through Christ's disciples!
In the natural, feet in Jesus' day got very dirty by the end of the day. Most people walked barefooted or used open-toed sandals. The streets were covered with animal dung. Neither was there indoor plumbing to flush away the daily human waste underground. I think you've got the picture of what people walked through every day. It was needful for health reasons to have their feet washed every day. They could easily become diseased.
Let's take this natural picture to a level higher and bring it home to where we live. Our "feet" represent our walk, our activity in this earth. We live in a filthy world. In America, for example, our minds are polluted with about a million commercials every year manipulating our senses to cause us to bow to the god of Mammon and the political, religious, social and economic systems of this world. The advertising experts of Hollywood, California and Madison Ave, New York hire professionals in mind manipulation to get us to buy their products and ideas. They use sex to sell just about everything. They actually put electrodes on kids' eyes to see how they respond to certain commercials. They do color experiments on us to learn what colors to make the packaging to entice us to pick up the package. The merchandisers of mammon spend billions of dollars every year to create commercials to entice our lusts of the eyes, lusts of the flesh and the pride of life that we might give them our life, that is, the money we earn with our time. They spend billions to get us drunk and fat. They manipulate our pride to get us to buy clothes and a host of other products we don't really need. They stimulate us to spend thousands of hours of our life being "entertained" by a whole army of activity instead of LIVING the life Jesus gave us to live. Most Hollywood movies and much of the "entertainment" of America glorifies pride and flesh. They are filled with violence which we export to all the youth of this world. Of course all the filth that is injected into the minds of the world's youth will manifest. If the reader had any idea how many Rambo-like movies Arab youth have digested over the last few decades and the effect these movies have had on their minds, they might put more pressure on Hollywood to stop producing such destructive seeds of future violence.
The average American, between all the different types of advertising we are exposed to such as billboards, magazines, newspapers, television, radio, direct mail, bus ads, trash can ads, premiums like pens, hats, T-shirts, coffee mugs (the list is endless), etc., is bombarded with over a thousand commercials every day. Most of them are coupled with sex. Most of them are designed to bypass our conscious mind and go right into certain triggers in our subconscious. Yes, God's "feet,"--us, His body in the earth, get awfully filthy simply from walking through life in America. There are far more seductive and multiplied enticements for the flesh here in America luring people into fleshly living than perhaps all the ancient cities that symbolize corrupt living like Sodom and Babylon combined. Our minds are poisoned by ads promoting enticements of the flesh in such heavy doses that it is impossible for us to shut them out or not be greatly influenced by them. We need not feel condemned by this anymore than a person living in Jesus' day need feel condemned for walking in the streets and getting dung on their feet. We simply need to know how to get our feet, our walk through daily life cleaned.
What Jesus said to Peter AND what He is still saying to His body on this earth today is this: "I have left you in a dirty world to be my feet, to spread the Good News, to be its light, to be its salt. As you go through the systems of this world which are filled with filth, you WILL get dirty. Your MIND will absorb some of the thoughts, the ideas, the enticements of the political, religious, social and economic systems of this world. Come to Me everyday in prayer. Ask Me to cleanse your mind of the daily dung you will automatically pick up simply because you are living in a filthy culture. The amount of filth your mind will pick up will be impossible for you to try to filter out. Come to Me at the end of each day. Humble yourselves before Me. And I will cleanse you from all the filth you picked up during your walk. I must do this for your sake and for Mine. You see, child, you are My feet in this earth. I must clean them if you are to remain in Me. If you do not let me cleanse you, the filth of this world will harden your heart and communication between us will break down. You will get cut off from the flow of my Spirit. You will quench My Spirit. You will lose the power in my grace for you."
COMMUNICATION WITHOUT CORROSION
A clean heart and a pure mind is VITAL for communication both spiritually with God and with each other. A couple years back, I wrote an Inspirational entitled "Communion with God and Man or Guarding the Wellspring of Life." I shared a story about how my marriage had soured. My wife, Michelle, and I were not communicating. We had allowed much corrosion to accumulate between us and we didn't see it.
On October 4, 1999, the Lord did a supernatural cleaning in both of us and restored a heart to heart relationship between my wife and I. Today, as I am writing this article, is the third anniversary of that wonderful supernatural experience. He left us with a nice illustration to show us what had happened to our marriage.
One of our cordless phones went out. I thought it just needed a new battery so I replaced it only to find that the telephone was still not operating. I thought we'd have to buy a new one. But my wife noticed a message in plain view on the receiving unit which neither of us ever read before even though it was in plain sight. It read: "Important Battery Information. Gently clean metal battery charge contacts monthly with a pencil eraser." After I followed these plain and simple directions, the phone worked properly.
With natural eyesight, the contacts looked perfectly clean – there was no visible corrosion. So too, with corrosion of the heart – it is invisible, but the effects of corrosion between people can be devastating often completely severing communication.
I recall after one of our verbal fights as we were driving to church, my wife, wanting to dispel the storm before we got to church, put her hand on my leg and gave me a smile as a sign of peace. I removed her hand, returned her a frown and held on to my resentment. During my silent drive to church the Holy Spirit began to show me what I was doing. To hang on to my resentment, I was actually depriving myself from my wife being nice to me. What fool would deprive himself of someone's kindness or love? Yet that's exactly what I was doing. I was cutting myself off from love just to hang on to my resentment. My resentment wasn't giving me any comfort or pleasure. What a stupid thing to do! Yet we do this all the time, don't we? Yes, when we hang on to corrosion of the heart: resentment, anger, bitterness – when we hold on to our grudges or seeming infractions against us – we actually cut ourselves off from many sources of life, from good things that others would like to do for us. There really is NO benefit to holding on to these things is there?
What I was really trying to do was punish her for what I thought she did to me. I was going to deprive her of any goodness from me. But in so doing, I was depriving myself! Worse than that, I was starting a chain event which could deprive both of us of the pleasure of each other's company AND our resentment towards each other could have spilled over to other lives that we touched. " See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." (Heb. 12:15, NIV) We must let them go if we are to receive life from each other.
What we think we do when we have resentment towards another person is put them into debtor's prison. They owe us and we're not gonna let them out until they pay. We won't be nice to them until the debt is paid. This puts corrosion between us. It puts bars, so to speak between us. But the fact of the matter is that the person holding the resentment is really the one who is in prison! That is the person who is depriving themselves of any goodness that may flow from the other individual.
Holding grudges NEVER pays. Picture in your mind what a grudge might look like if it was a creature of some kind. It probably wouldn't look very pretty, would it? Why would we want to hold onto something like that until someone else first makes a move towards reconciliation? YOU are the one stuck with this ugly creature, not the other person. Get rid of it. It's robbing you of love, joy and peace. It's taking away your life!
The Scriptures have a lot to say about this subject in many different forms. God greatly values openness between each other and between Him and us. The instructions for clean communication are plainly written in the Book. Sometimes we are just too filled with uncleanness to see what is plainly written.
"And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." (Mark 11:25, 26 NIV)
"Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." (Matt. 6:12, NIV)
"Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us." Luke 11:4, NIV)
"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny." (Matt. 5:23"26, NIV)
"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." (James 5:16, NIV)
"The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk." (1 Tim. 1:5, 6, NIV)
The instructions on the telephone insisted on monthly cleaning for pure good communications. Jesus suggests that we come to Him for a daily foot washing if we are going to maintain clean communications with man and God. During this time, if He brings up some business that needs to be addressed with another brother or sister, it would be to our interest and His to deal with the matter immediately that we may enjoy the fullness of the love, joy and peace He wants us to experience each and every day of our lives.
Remember, Jesus knows how evil the systems of this world are. He truly knows everything you are exposed and subjected to. If you are a born-from-above Christian, He lives inside of you. He knows YOU much better than you know yourself. He knows every thought that has come into you and that has come out of you. He is not interested in condemning you, He wants you to experience His Life to the fullest. (John 10:10; John 15:11; Phil 4:7) That requires clean communication. Many of His blessings will come from other people. If we cut ourselves off from them, we cut ourselves off from an abundant life.
Today, come to Jesus, the guardian of your soul, and let Him wash your feet, your daily walk in a dirty world. Let Him cleanse you of the daily garbage that systems of this world pour out on you often without your permission. And let Him bring to your remembrance anything that may prevent the flow of goodness to come to you because there is a blockage between yourself and someone else. Don't be as foolish as I was, cutting myself off from my wife's love on the way to church just to hold onto an ugly old grudge. What a dumb thing to do!
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10, NIV)
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:7, NIV)
"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit"" fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other." John 17:11"17, NIV)
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