The Hard Stuff


Jesus called His disciples—and He calls us—into a life in which we're willing to do bottom-rung, lowly, and even repulsive acts of service.

"I am not your servant!"

These are the words I half-grunted, half-spoke to one of my kids yesterday as I got on my hands and knees to pick up the crumpled pieces of dry pasta he'd deposited on the floor rather than in the garbage can.

Then a thought struck me: I sure hope Jesus didn't hear me say that!

Unfortunately, this attitude toward servanthood extends well beyond my feelings about cleaning the floor. Most of the time, serving others just rubs me the wrong way. Sure, if it's some sort of extra-meaningful service project (where you can practically hear the soundtrack of inspirational feel-good music in your mind as you work and you experience a rush of good feelings about how great you are for doing this), then it's not too hard.

But what about real service? The kind Jesus talked about? The kind that involves getting no credit? The kind that may not be accompanied by any feelings other than a waging battle against your selfish impulses? The kind that may even involve serious germs or really bad smells?

Remember when Jesus washed the disciples' feet (John 13)? We know this was a humble thing to do, but from our modern-day perspective we may not realize how culturally radical Jesus' act was. This job was normally reserved for servants and slaves. In fact, it was considered to be so lowly that it was usually set aside for Gentile slaves—those who were on the very bottom rung of Jewish society. That's why Peter responded so dramatically at first, absolutely refusing to let Jesus demean himself in that way (John 13:8).

"I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you," Jesus said (John 13:15).

He called his disciples—and he calls us—into a life that's willing to do bottom-rung, lowly, distasteful, and even repulsive acts of service. This is a call to the hard stuff. But in those on-your-knees-on-the-kitchen-floor moments, we're answering that call as we serve in Jesus' name.

 Written by Kelli B. Trujillo

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