Saturday, May 17, 2008

Toe Jam Christians

The following is from a message presented at Mosaic Church on Sunday May 4, 2008. Additional messages will appear at various links including The Virtual Pew Sermon links available either from this article or from visiting web site. Please feel free to pass along the links to these messages or to post on various message boards. Hoopefully they can be of benefit to those needing them, and as always, thanks so much for visiting The Virtual Pew.

Watch and enjoy this short video. If you can’t get the video to work just click on the following link:

Washing feet can be a fun thing as illustrated in the video above, but are you willing to clean out the toe jam from someone else?

In my last message you heard about the story of Anthony, my story. Today I want you to know what you should expect of me as a pastor, or any pastor for that matter. I know it will be different than what some are used to but I believe the concept is appropriate.

First, understand this; many have a misperception of what a pastor is. A pastor can also be compared to a teacher, a helper or even a coach. I personally like the concept of the pastor as a coach. In the Greek, the language used to write most of the New Testament, the word for Pastor, Elder, and Leaders is essentially the same word. This word does not generally apply to the majority of people in the congregation, often the word most associated with them is Disciples, or Ministers. This said though, I want to keep the focus on the pastor, elders, and other leaders in the church. For all practical purposes, consider them essentially the same as a coach. On this point I also want to mention, that when leading, we should learn from the ultimate leader, Jesus Christ.

Philippians 2:5 states; Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.

When looking at the mind of Jesus, or the person of Jesus, we must consider who Jesus was. All through out the New Testament we see that Jesus is given different names, and has different associations. Many of those include; Advocate, Almighty, Alpha and Omega, Author of Life, Author and Perfecter of our Faith, Author of Salvation, Beginning and End, Blessed and only Ruler, Chief Cornerstone, Chief Shepherd, Christ, Creator, Deliverer, Faithful Witness, First and Last, Good Shepherd, Great Shepherd, Head of the Church, Lord of All, Savior, Son of God, plus over 100 other titles all giving respect to the person and role of Jesus.

One of the concepts of Jesus we hear often about is the roles associated with being a shepherd. In this understanding we must realize that Jesus is the Chief Shepherd, and the elders, leaders and pastors within a church are the Under Shepherd. The role model to follow is in fact, Jesus.

Let’s look at the following passage from the Bible, it is one some call the last supper. While there are different variations of this passage in different books of the Bible, we want to look at one that shows the person of Jesus like few others.

John 13: 1-17
(1) It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.

(2)The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. (3) Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; (4) so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. (5) After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
(6) He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"

(7) Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."

(8) "No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet."
Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."

(9) "Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!"

(10) Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you." (11) For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

(12) When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. (13) "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. (14) Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. (15) I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. (16) I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. (17) Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

In vs. 1 Jesus is going to show his followers the “Full Extent of His Love.” This was a lasting impression Jesus wanted to leave for all of his followers.

We need to realize that in vs. 2, that through this experience Judas Iscariot, the one who would ultimately betray Jesus was present. From this perspective we should understand, Christ does not put conditions on those he serves.

In vs. 3-5, Jesus takes on a role normally reserved for slaves. It is as if he becomes a slave and serves those at the table, even Judas.

In vs. 6 – 10, we see one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture, we see the exchange with Peter were he says, “not just feet, but all of me.” As we look at this passage, as we think of Peter, are we willing to offer our all? Are we willing to serve all of the needs of those we come into contact with?

Many have felt abandoned by the church because the church has forgotten about serving all of those needing served. The Virtual Pew, and Mosaic are churches built on a concept of being for all people, even those who have given up on church. Are we willing to serve all? Including the dirtiest of the dirty?

In vs. 12 – 16, Jesus gives clarity; he lets his disciples know he is their “teacher” and their “Lord.” Jesus has expectations, but he is willing to set the standard, he has done what he is telling his leaders to do. Those of us, who are leaders must be willing to do what Jesus commanded his disciples to do, serve, and become slaves to those we lead. Anything else is putting us above Jesus.

In vs. 17 we see that when leaders are willing to serve the congregation, and the congregation is willing to serve their communities, the church and individuals will be blessed. Jesus illustrates this point again, in: Mark 10: 44, 45

(44) And if you want to be first, you must be everyone's slave. (45) The Son of Man did not come to be a slave master, but a slave who will give his life to rescue many people.

A Question I have is, is the Leadership, congregation, willing to wash the feet of those we come into contact with by serving them, even those who would betray us and do us wrong?

In closing look at the following video, check out how one man made a decision to serve someone else, then notice the impact his willingness to serve has had on others. Just double click on the video, if the video don’t work, click on the following link.

In closing today, tell someone of your willingness to serve. Consider being a servant, and then pray while listening to the words from the following video. Again, if the video don’t work, just click on the link provided.

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