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From: Jeremy Singapore
Hey everybody!! i thot that this was so inspiring and convicting, which is why i decided to spread the secret of having awesome relationships with pple. u won't regret reading it!! God Bless!! Jem ************************************************ Daring to Love Like Jesus: Chapter 1 Eric Mansfield Introduction: Daring to Love Like Jesus Building Relationships the Jesus Way It seemed like just another dinner with the Savior, even though the air was a little more somber this particular evening. The twelve men were crowded together in an upper room to have a last supper with the Lord before his departure from the earth. The men thought they knew Jesus after having spent three years with him. They had seen him teach, heal, inspire, challenge and pray. They had learned lessons of holiness from their Master. They had learned the errors of the lives and teachings of the contemporary Jewish teachers of the law. And yet, nothing they had seen would prepare them for the shock they were about to receive. "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. The evening meal was being served..." (Jn.13:1-3). As the meal was being served they noticed the Lord got up. It seemed as if there was something going on in his mind as he rose. It was because of the look on his face. A resolute, yet peaceful look. It communicated a deep intensity about whatever it was he was about do. They had seen that look before when he had something important he wanted to pass on to his disciples. But this time he didn't say anything. He was strangely quiet. He got up and began taking off his outer clothing - right in the middle of the meal! What was he doing? His disciples all stopped eating and stared in confusion. Then he moved towards the entryway and picked up the wash basin and put THE TOWEL around his waist. The Towel - what an amazing thing in God's hand! You could have heard a pin drop. Their jaws certainly did. Peter and his companions were in shock! He wasn't going to wash their feet was he? Granted, it was a customary gesture of the day that when a guest came to a banquet a servant would wash the guest's feet. The filth of Jerusalem's streets on men's sandaled feet was hardly desirable at a banquet feast (not to mention the odor), but...why was HE doing this task? In a wealthy home, it was the servants job to do this task. In a poorer home, the host did it himself. In either case, it was hardly a job for God in the flesh! Yes - it had occurred to the men that someone in this little band of brothers should provide this service, since no servant or host was present. But it would have been so awkward! After all, the twelve had often argued about who was the greatest. And besides, positioning themselves had been quite commonplace in their number. If one of them was to take on this task it might be misconstrued by the rest. Someone might think that they lacked the confidence of a future leader in this new church being established. How could someone who washes feet be used in a future leaders role in this fertile breeding ground of apostolic leaders? Or, maybe the rest would think that attempting such an act as foot washing was a mere ploy of false humility to impress the others. Maybe they would accuse such a servant as merely trying to impress the rest with their noble service. No, it was too awkward. Too dangerous. Just ignore the need. Pretend the problem didn't exist. After all, they had an awful lot on their minds right now anyway. Oh no! He really was going to do it! Jesus was actually going to wash their feet! As he knelt down in front of Peter, the apostle pulled his feet back and recoiled in horror. "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" Peter asked in a statement of astonishment and dismay. It was asked almost with a tinge of reproof in it - as if to say to the Lord, "Jesus, this is entirely inappropriate." It would be much better for the men to have dirty feet than to have the Son of God down on his knees in front of them. It turned the whole authority structure upside down! Man kneels before God, not God before man! Everyone knows that. So Peter followed up his question with a stern proclamation: "No, you shall never wash my feet!" No! Not now. Not ever. It wasn't the way things should be. A myriad of emotions overwhelmed Peter and his friends: Shock at Jesus' immodesty, having removed all his outer clothing; Embarrassment that so powerful a leader would be serving them when they had been all too comfortable ignoring the need; Horror that God's hands would actually be touching their body, their "unclean feet"; Fear - could I?... would I?... want to follow the Lord in this example of "leadership?" they trembled at the thought. Yet somehow they felt some strangely positive emotions too: Security that this Jesus was a leader like no other, never again doubting God's willingness to meet their needs because he was a God of the Towel. Tenderness because he was willing to touch the body of another man (his feet no less!) in vulnerability, gentleness and absolute purity. Faith that never again would they be tempted to doubt the depth of God's love and concern for them. Confidence that this really was God's home - a place where all would be accepted in love. Thus began a teaching to the apostles that would forever shake their view of themselves, God and their fellow man. Their whole view of what it meant to be a leader was blown away in a single moment. Their vision of their role as future church leaders was annihilated. Their view of who God really was changed (even after having been with God in the flesh for three years)! They learned something revolutionary and new: that God's way of building relationships was very different than man's. A lesson still very needed for our day and age. That is why Jesus sternly responded to Peter's rebuttal by saying, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." It was a cutting rebuke. Not just "Hey Peter, you are missing it here." It was "NO PART with me." Absolute. Cutting. You either understand this or you are rejected from service in his kingdom. Ouch. No room for compromise on this one. Why was Jesus so hard core about this? Because he saw the damage men do when they try to "help" others without having this humility. Men ambitious for things of this world, for power, for prestige, for ranking - they never please God. They have no part of his ministry even if they boast they have done much for others. What God wants is men and women who are as comfortable carrying the "Sword of the Spirit" as they are the Towel. The scriptures said, "Jesus knew the time had come for him to leave this world." That is a nice way of saying Jesus knew it was time for him to die. He knew he had to die. Death was the only way that life could be resurrected. "I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds" Jesus said in the same gospel a chapter earlier. Yes - he was ready and willing to die so others would live. He was resolutely determined to die. The time had come for him to leave this world because he had trained up a group of disciples who were nearly ready to die to themselves. But this final lesson had to be taught. Lesson one in "daring to love as Jesus did" is this: You must die too! Die to your own selfishness, rights and desires. Romans 6:1-4 says that in baptism we died to our old lives which includes all it's passions and desires. We put to death our sinful natures. But it is a daily death we die as we daily pick up the cross (Luke 9:23). Every day is a new opportunity to pick up our cross and die to our fleshly natures. Here is where many potentially great relationships never get off the ground. So many disciples of Christ never fully develop because they buy the lie that good relationships happen only when we find the person or people who will meet our needs as we would like them to. We mistakenly think we will have a great marriage if we find the right spouse who will cater to our ever desire. We will have best friends if we find the person who always meets our emotional needs. We will have great family relationships if our family will just understand our wants and desires. We wait for this perfect utopia where all our needs are going to be met by the people around us. When all the planets and stars line up and all the right people are meeting our needs, then suddenly we will find "relationship paradise." But the Garden of Eden has long passed due to man's sinful nature, so many of us sit forlornly stuck wondering why we have no real close relationships here on earth. Jesus did not shrink back from dying. He started dying long before the cross. He was dying to himself every day. I heard one preacher say that a man usually dies the way he lived. It is true. If he lived his life graciously, thinking of others and being kind - then as he dies you will likely see those same qualities. Note Jesus on the cross - meeting the needs of his mother, praying to his Father, forgiving his mockers, sharing his faith with the criminal all while dying on the cross. A man dies the way he lived. Are you dying now? And Jesus showed "the full extent" of his death to self at the meal with the Towel around his waist. He died to hunger by taking the Towel "while the meal was being served." He wasn't hungry? Perhaps, but not likely. More likely, he was thinking of the needs of his men over his own appetite. It wouldn't have meant as much if he had filled his stomach first, then served later. No, this was the time - "while the meal was being served." The Towel was the "full extent of his love." He had always loved them, since even before they were created. But this was the greatest, fullest way he could show them his love. But one might say, "Wait a minute - I thought the cross was the greatest expression of his love?" So why does this passage say this was the "full extent?" Because it was the heart of the cross already being revealed. The death to self had already begun long before the cross. The cross was a natural extension of the Towel. Same heart. Same servitude for others. Same humility. Same death. There are times in my life when the Towel seemed so big. The "dirty feet" of needs of others seemed too much. The phone rang off the hook too much. The house felt like Grand Central Station. Too many people were tugging on my sleeve for attention, direction or help. I started looking over my shoulder at my peers in the world who could come home at the end of their day and slip under their electric garage doors without regards for their neighbors. They could hide from the Towel behind their televisions, hobbies, magazines and selfish interests. I was living out the Psalm 73 lament. I had to die. I went to a lonely gravel road and prayed, -- no complained to Jesus at the top of my lungs - "What do you want from me!?" In my Spirit I already knew. He wanted me to be like him. To pick up my Towel and die to self. Then, on that gravel road the surrender came as I realized He wasn't asking of me anything He hadn't already done for me. I said to Him, "I surrender." The Towel went from a burden to an honor! Oh sure, sometimes I get tempted to put the Towel down again (and do at times of weakness still)! But it never gets very far out of sight now, because I want it near. It is His Towel. What about you reader? Are you ready for the "dare?" Are you really ready for the "time to come" to put yourself to death? It means giving up all of you, you know. It means your time will be God's time. It means others needs will be met before yours. It means being on your knees before the Lord, because he never asks of us what he didn't do first for us, and He was on his knees for us. If you want to impact others for Christ, you have to be ready to die to self. If you want to impact God's people, the greatest amongst you must be the servant of ALL. If you want to improve your marriage, your mind must be consumed with thinking about meeting your spouse's needs. Oh yes - it's a big Towel to carry. But the Lord carried it first. He still carries it for you everyday. Because he is the Lord of the Towel. Has "your time come" to pick up your Towel daily? Ephesians 4:29 states: "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." You cannot build Jesus-type relationships if you are too filled with self. Speech has an amazing way of revealing what is in our heart. As the scripture states, let what comes out of your mouth come from the heart of the Towel. The best relationships I know of are where two people independently decide they will focus on giving to each other and meet the other's needs. It is not dependent on a feeling. It is not dependent on warm fuzzies you feel toward that person. It is a decision of the Towel. There are some Christians who love the Lord, share their faith and pray daily. They are also very frustrated about their inability to bring others into God's kingdom. They wonder why. It is because they haven't taken hold of the Towel yet. If you can scarcely go for one minute without turning a conversation back to yourself, you remain only a single seed. I needed someone to teach me how to pick up the Towel. Someone who could be for me a human example of living out Christ's Towel. God has such people for us to learn from you know. They are the ones who listen intently, taking you in with their eyes. They don't preach too quickly at us. They really want to help. They don't quickly pontificate, advise, correct or criticize. They stand there with their Towel in hand, trying hard to find a way to serve us. They are the ones who help us find strength when we were ready to quit. They are the ones who we trust and love us when the rest doubt us. They are the ones who trust us enough (and God enough) to be open and honest with their lives. Praise God for those men and women of the Towel in our lives. We couldn't make it without them! That is exactly why God gave out so many Towels. Satan will not let you easily pick up your Towel. He will try to fill your head with all kinds of reasons why your service will be unwanted, unappreciated, disrespected, misunderstood, ill timed, abused, etc. But it doesn't matter. Because you are picking up HIS Towel. The glass of water you give to the thirsty, you give to the Lord. The food you give to your hungry enemy, you give to the Lord. The hard hearted person you serve, you serve as if serving the Lord himself. Are you willing to take the dare? It is much more than an occasional act of kindness. It is a lifestyle. We have all done a few righteous good deeds for someone only to boast about it a short time later. Anybody can do an occasional deed of self-sacrifice. Jesus said in Matthew 5: 46-48, "If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Even the ungodly can do occasional acts of servitude for people! Jesus lived the Towel every day. He died that way. It will require a whole new definition of how you plan to live your life. It is not for the faint hearted. But it is God's way to build relationships. Souls needing to be led to God hang in the balance of your decision. Are you ready? Then it is time to talk to the Lord about how you feel about His Towel. His Towel is yours now if you say you are his disciple. There is no other way.