Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Spiritual Foot-Washing?

The movie "The Second Chance", produced by Provident Films (Facing the Giants, Fireproof), is about Ethan Jenkins (played by Michael W. Smith), a musician-turned-pastor who's rocking the pulpit and his well-to-do suburban flock. When the church board sends him on sabbatical, Ethan decides to help Second Chance Community Church, an inner-city fellowship. But the church's Pastor Jake resents Ethan's arrival and their prejudices cause a bit of discord between them.

There is a scene in the movie where the character named Sonny washes the feet of his friend Tony. The point of this scene did not really click with me until today. In an earlier scene, Sonny, a mentally challenged church custodian admonishes his friend Tony for using the word "hell." Tony had been beat up for refusing to join a gang. Sonny washes Tony's feet after reading his bible and apparently being convicted. I'm assuming from the scene that he had read John 13:1-20 where Jesus washes his disciples' feet At the end of the scene, you will see that Ethan appears visually humbled (convicted) by the demonstration and gets up to follow suit and wash the feet of Pastor Jake. Until this moment, Ethan, a popular musician, had considered himself somewhat above the task of helping a struggling inner city church, as if his popularity somehow gave him the power to do so.

Here's where I'm going with this:

I initially wrote this post a few weeks ago and actually posted it; but then for some reason, felt compelled to delete it. I think the reason came to me today. I've been angry with my son for his seemingly lack of appreciation for all the help we've given him and his wife over the last few months in letting them live with us until they could both become gainfully employed and get into their own residence. I admonished him for what looked to me like a lack of appreciation based on my own attitude that I was some sort of "savior" for helping them. I arrogantly placed myself on a pedestal above them, somehow thinking that I deserved a display of appreciation from them.

Jesus did not consider himself above anyone despite the fact that in reality, he is above all; He is God. (See Philippians 2:1-11) In John 13:16, Jesus says: I tell you for certain that servants are not greater than their master, and messengers are not greater than the one who sent them. I think this is the point of the foot washing scene in the movie, and in the passage.

None of us—followers of Christ—are greater than the messenger. Jesus' act of loving servitude demonstrates to me that it's more honorable to be at the bottom of the hierarchy than the top. No matter what my station in life is, Prince or Pauper, King or Jester, President or Page, Master or Slave, Helper or Helped, I am not above anyone. Jesus—God—demonstrated that even he was no greater than anyone, even Judas who was about to betray him. Who am I to consider myself any greater than that?

To my son and his wife (Father and Mother to be): please accept my humble apology for placing myself in some sort of savior role. I am no greater than anyone and certainly no greater than you. You both have busted your butts to find jobs and take the step towards independence. It was rather arrogant for me to believe it was because of something I did. I humbly beg your forgiveness. I love you both and am proud you. Keep up the good work.


  1. I can relate to what you say. Much as I'd hate to think of myself as proud or arrogant, there are times when I've become exasperated and told someone off - then realized I'm setting myself up to judge. In fact, a job I could never take on would be magistrate, because it would involve rebuking others, and that can cause a bad attitude about myself. Incidentally, the professor you mention who was healed of blindness must have a problem with 'double-think', keeping two contradictory ideas in his mind at once. He might also be in breach of his own principles if he claims to believe in respecting the views of others!

  2. Bill, as soon as I read your comment I prayed that you will find the right new employment at the right time. If I did not put my own faith in Jesus I would lose a lot of sleep and peace of mind worrying about friends and their moments of trial, as well as my own. I will remain in prayer. Blessings to you and all yours.