Read John 13:3-5
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23)
There are all types of welcome mats with various images, shapes, sizes, designs, and with various sayings on them. Despite the clear differences between any given welcome mat, they all have one thing in common: all welcome mats are meant to appear to be “welcoming” someone to the home, business or institution, all the while suggesting that the person should “wipe their feet” before entering. What a crazy double message that is, isn’t it? You are welcome, but not as you are…dirty.
According to the author of John, Jesus was holding a special pre-Passover meal with his disciples before he was to be arrested, tried and executed for treason. The scene can be easily imagined. They had traveled all day long on dusty/dirty streets in the hot sun. They more than likely smelled to high heaven of sweat and body odor. Dirt covered them from head to toe, clumped and caked on via the sweat. And then there were their feet, the part of their body that took the majority of the abuse. Can you imagine how dirty, how absolutely nasty, those feet must’ve been? Yet Christ, welcomed them and then took the role of a servant by washing those nasty feet.
Truth be told, Christ never intended us to be clean, but wants us to get dirty helping others get clean. How completely antithetical welcome mats are to who Jesus is and who Jesus calls us to be! But what are these “welcome mats” in our churches, one might ask? They are the clothes we wear, the language we use, the theology we preach, the leadership styles we worship, the politics we play, the buildings we inhabit, the idols we claim to be God (such as dogmas, traditions, theologies, and anything in our churches that replace God), the arrogance we bear, and the pride we display.
It seems clear that the reason any church or church leader or congregant has these is because they are missing perhaps the most important piece of wisdom that any Christian must have. This piece of wisdom is found in verse 3 of the passage quoted at the outset of this writing. In that verse it says the following words, “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God…”
Jesus show tremendous humility in his earthly ministry. The author of John writes that Jesus knew that all things had been given to him by God, that he was from God, and God he was returning. The church, however, seems to forget this fact about itself. It forgets that God has given it all that it has, it forgets that from God it came, and to God it shall return.
Like Jesus, we are to be the welcome mats, rather than placing other objects down as the welcome mats in order to give ourselves a false sense of “clean.” Like Jesus, we too should remember that everything we have is from God! This includes everything in heaven and on earth, our very lives, the lives of those who surround us, the lives of those we love, and the lives of those we hate; everything in creation is from God. Thus, dirty or not, dressed right or not, theologically sound or not, great leader or not, etc., these people are given to us by God, just as we are given to those people by God. Let us not place obstacles in the way of anyone, but rather, let us serve others in love and truly welcome them in as brothers and sisters.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“He does not believe who does not live according to his belief.” – Thomas Fuller
Lord, use me in a way that is truly welcoming to all of those people you have placed in my life. Amen.