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Dull but worthy

"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." John 13.5

Today must the least glamorous but most necessary of the 'International Days of...'. This is the 'Day of the Toilet'. Apparently 2 billion people, between a quarter and a third of the world's population, lack safe access to a hygienic toilet. You can imagine the health implications, let alone the impact on personal dignity. The majority of the problem lies in the less-developed parts of the world. So is our equivalent of foot-washing to provide for this essential need among our materially poorer friends and neighbours?

It must at least constitute part of that vocation. ( I refer to vocation rather than duty because doing our duty implies that we achieve something to our credit, while fulfilling our vocation is an on-going response to God's call on our lives.) But it goes further... When Jesus washed his disciples feet, he was setting them an example of how love operates through serving rather than being served. In his exchange with Peter, when the latter was persuaded to allow Jesus to perform this menial task and then wanted his whole body washed, Jesus went on to explain that Peter and all the disciples' deeper need of spiritual cleansing was another matter, which would come to a head on the cross when Jesus would wash away the filth of sin through his blood shed on the cross. Yet the two are linked because Jesus made clear to Peter that he could not have one without the other.

"Unless I wash you, you have no part with me," Jesus goes on to say at verse 8 in the same chapter. What does he mean? That he calls the shots. However well-intentioned Peter's, or our, desire to isolate Jesus on a pedestal, he will have none of it, insisting that not only will he die for us but that he will minister to our daily needs. The one, sacrifice for the sins of the world, is for him alone. The other, menial service, is for all who would call themselves Christians or followers of Jesus.



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