Nathan W. Bingham
Connecting in a Hyper-Connected World

Are You Being Served?

When you gather together on the Lord’s Day are you being served or do you come to do the serving? Consider this excerpt from Michael Horton’s Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church (pp.228-9):

The church has a very narrow commission. It is not called to be an alternative neighbourhood, circle of friends, political action committee, social club, or public service agency; it is called to deliver Christ so clearly and fully that believers are prepared to be salt and light in the worldly stations to which God has called them. Why should a person go through all the trouble of belonging to a church and showing up each Sunday if God is the passive receiver and we are the active giver? It’s like being expected to look forward to Christmas when you are always giving but never receiving any gifts…

When Jesus wrapped a towel around his waist and began washing the disciples’ feet, Peter was confused and asked, “‘Lord, do you wash my feet?’ Jesus answered him, ‘What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand'” (John 13:6-7; emphasis added). Afterward? After what? Jesus is referring to his ultimate act of service at Golgotha, which Peter so often rebuked Jesus for talking about as they were nearing Jerusalem. Peter was ready for action: a coronation or a revolution, but not Jesus’s crucifixtion. True to character, Peter protested, “‘You shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no share with me'” (v.8).

Not only once upon a time, on a hill far away, but each week the Son of God comes to serve us. We may protest. We may think that it is we who need to serve God rather than vice versa. Nevertheless, Jesus tells us as he told Peter that this is actually an insult, a form of pride. We are the ones who need to be bathed, clothed, and fed, not God.