New Creation. Heaven on Earth. The End is Beginning.
In many Christian traditions, foot-washing ceremonies provide a way for brothers and sisters in Christ to express their deep commitment to and care for each other. Foot washing can feel almost sacramental for those who give and receive it.
Knowing that you aren’t the messiah of your company, your ministry, your family or your community is a good thing! John modeled and Patrick lived what all followers of Jesus should aspire to be: humble servants who know that the only joy in life is found by submitting to Jesus, our humble Lord.
Our leadership may call us to confront some kind of system, power or authority in order to do what’s best for the people and organizations we serve.
Yesterday, we reflected on how John got his nickname, the Baptizer. Today, we will see another name for John—a witness. John the Baptizer’s ministry is clearly given as a “witness” to the light so that “all might believe” in the Logos, the Word, who is Jesus Christ (1:7). Now, the word “witness” is an important word in John’s gospel, showing up 14 times compared to only three in the Synoptics… John being described as a witness informs modern Christians how we should we be identified as well.
I’ll be calling John the Baptist, John the Baptizer because there were no Baptists or Presbyterians or Pentecostals back in the first century! John got his name because he was known to live fully for the Lord, spending his life baptizing people into God’s family. John got his nickname from what people saw. If someone could observe you all day, what could your nickname be? Grumpy Glen? Caffeine Carol? Netflix Nate? Drama Dan?
At the center of everything, when it comes right down to it, how in touch are each of us with the person God created us to be? I’m writing this at the start of a brand-new year, and in the year or two that came before this particular new year people have been talking a lot about truth. Truth has been the topic of many of our news cycles, church sermons, podcast episodes, and dinner table conversations. For better or worse, we, like Pilate in his response to Jesus, have been asking, “What is truth?”
I’ve been reflecting on Jedd Medefind and Erik Lokkesmoe’s book, The Revolutionary Communicator… As we’ve seen, the book describes seven essential practices modeled by Jesus: attentiveness, seeking connection, asking questions, authenticity, storytelling, solitude, and defining success. As I’ve incorporated these practices into my own leadership, I have seen incredible fruit, but I’ve also faced many challenges that could be perceived as apparent failures.
The most powerful military regime, the most opulent estate, or the applause of a thousand admirers would not have even come close to the greatness of the Eternal Son—if Jesus only chose to reveal his heavenly reality. Instead, Jesus left them with a picture of success he wanted them to remember and emulate: the most powerful man to ever walk the planet removing his clothes, wrapping a towel around his waist, and washing the muck off of the disciples’ feet. True greatness looks like a lowly servant.
Who we become as leaders is every bit as important as what we do. In the language of one tradition, we are called to promise that we will serve the people we lead with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love. It is the last of these four promises that concerns us today. For those familiar with the Christian tradition, ending our vows with the promise to serve with love should come as no surprise. After all, love is the greatest of all Christian virtues. Love is the fulfillment of God’s vocation for us as human beings.