How to Bless Your Neighbor - Jesus Invites Us to Serve
Encounter: Slowly read through or listen to the audio version of John 13:3-17 in the NIV, TPT or your favorite Bible version. Then read Matthew 20:28 & Luke 10:5-7. Underline words or phrases that speak to you about the invitation to Serve.
Many years ago, when I was attending a church in rural Illinois, there were some disagreements among the members which brought tension and division throughout the congregation. Certain families were being chosen for leadership positions and given special treatment and others noticed. In time, backbiting, dissension and gossip were rampant and where there was once a focus on Jesus and sense of unity, love and a strong commitment to community, contempt hung heavy in the air.
At one point, I became involved in some of the divisive conversations until one day I felt a conviction come over my heart that I was no longer to view people in the judgmental way that I had been, to stop talking about them to others and to ask my Lord for forgiveness for the way I was treating them.
One evening the women of the church were gathering in someone’s home to pray and discuss what was happening and as I was preparing to leave for the meeting, an overwhelming impression came upon my heart. I sensed the Lord telling me to go around and wash the feet of each woman present. I had never washed anyone’s feet but I remembered the story in John 13, when Jesus bent down and washed each of the disciple’s feet.
When the time was right I shared what I felt the Lord told me to do and began to make my way around the circle. At first it felt awkward and I began to doubt I had heard the Lord correctly. But things began to change in the room. Hardened hearts softened and tears began to flow. We knew the Lord was present.
As I knelt down, things shifted within me as I poured the water over each of the women’s feet and dried them with a towel. Where there had been pride, I felt humility. Where there was dissension a feeling of love and peace.
I felt like I was experiencing the promise Jesus gave to His disciples when He said, “So if I’m your teacher and Lord and have just washed your dirty feet, then you should follow the example that I’ve set for you and wash one another’s dirty feet. Now do for each other what I have just done for you. I speak to you timeless truth: a servant is not superior to his master, and an apostle is never greater than the one who sent him. So now put into practice what I have done for you, and you will experience a life of happiness enriched with untold blessings!” We began to experience the Blessing.
This simple act of Jesus would speak to Christ followers down through the ages and speak to us about how disciples of Jesus are to treat one another, especially those serving Him together in community. Jesus was saying to them, the world will know you are Christians by how you love and treat one another (John 13:35). Before you Serve your neighbor, make sure you take time to wash one another’s feet.
This Sunday is Friend Sunday! Invite a friend to worship which is the first act of service. We will be talking about how we help people find their way back to God by serving them and are encouraging everyone who received an iServe t-shirt to wear it as we BLESS our neighbors.
In the next few days think about - Who are some people you could serve? How could you reach out to them? Is there someone’s feet you need to wash in order to bring healing to the relationship? Pray for the courage to serve!
This act of serving one another and our neighbor realigns our hearts to the heart of Jesus, who did not come to be served, but to serve (Matt: 20:28). Not only will we BLESS but we will be BLESSed in return.
Serving with you,
Reflect: When you hear the word “serve” what comes to mind? Some biblical scholars assert that foot washing was reserved for only the lowliest slaves. In what ways does Jesus example come into conflict with our cultural values? What would be some contemporary equivalents to washing another person’s feet in our culture today?
Encourage: How can we cultivate a posture of readiness to serve others and encourage them in their faith and lives in big ways and small ways? We talk about the 3 priorities to being part of the Eden Church community. Come to worship on Sundays, belong to a Life Group and Serve on 1 serving team. How does this prepare you to BLESS?
Review your BLESS journal or notebook where you have been writing down the names of those you have begun to Bless by “Begin with Prayer” “Listen with Care” and Eat by sharing a meal with someone. How has this prepared you to Serve them?
Gather: In your small group share your experiences in following the Jesus mission through the BLESS initiative. Take time to pray over all the opportunities God is giving you to BLESS your neighbor. Is there an opportunity for your Life Group to serve together a people or place in our community?