(This was written to be read allowed as a devotional for ADD listeners like myself.)
A friend asked how I was doing the other morning and I responded “I’m here… I am human”. I was training for a race and my feet hurt. I had been doing too much on every level. Real life stuff, here. I guess I could have just said that I was “doing great!”. But it wasn’t that type of friend and besides, I’m becoming more and more comfortable with the status of my humanity.
For seemingly well intended reasons we find all kinds of reasons to remain reserved when interacting with one another. Even in some of our most intimate relationships we still don’t feel safe enough to share some of our true feelings and perspectives. Surely this is a problem.
Sharing all of our inner workings is an error, of course. In fact that can be a different problem all together. More important is the way in which we live so very isolated among plenty of people and find ourselves feeling lonely.
Jesus taught us to call God our Father which was vastly different from the religious teachings of his time. One of the most unique facets of Christianity when compared to the varied strands of philosophy and religion is the right to “become children of God”. This was one of the most unique things Christ brought to our attention: creator, all-powerful, brooding over the darkness, hand spanning across the universe God is our daddy. It was on this point that the religious of Jesus’ day had such a hard time.
Just like the religious of Jesus’ day many of us love the idea of God. We love to have a way to understand this crazy world. We love to sing songs and have assurance of the afterlife. But what Christ offers us is so much more. He offers us a way to be near to God the Father. He gives us a way to disrobe from our orphan clothes and be a child of God. His invitation makes us aware of His great love for us and bids us simply to come to Him.
It’s in this proximity where all change can happen just like a child finds identity from time with her parents. So too, we find our identity from time with God. As we learn how to cohabitate with God in the nooks and crannies of our lives, we learn how to carry the proper and healthy rhythm of relationship with other people and learn to be our true self with both. But this true self that we become in God makes people uncomfortable, especially religious types. It seems that at times we are caught between everybody’s expectations of what they think we should be.
In Matthew 19, the children came busting in to see Jesus and the disciples, who were closest to Him, who turned them away thinking Jesus had more important things to do, more important people to see. But Jesus exhibited the children to the disciples and instructed them to become like the little children, that unless they became like the children they would not know the Kingdom of God.
Kids then couldn’t have been all that different from kids today. They’re honest, forthright, unpretentious, and even might smell a little rank. I bet Jesus was ready to cuss at how much his guys were missing and how He was longing to talk to someone real. Several times in scripture Jesus witnesses somebody breaking down these paradigms with their speech, (i.e. Zacheacius saying that he would give back all the things he stole, the centurion referencing his power and comparing it to Jesus’ power, and the parable of the men in the temple one beating his chest confessing he was a sinner) and Jesus always commended them. I believe Jesus longs for real people, congruent people.
In one of the most loved and shared stories of the New Testament, we find Jesus at dinner with his friends. He took off his normal attire and put on the foot washer’s uniform. He got on His hands and knees and with a wet towel in one hand and a bowl of water in the other he asked one of his best if He could wash his feet. This must have simply been a little bit beyond Peter’s comfort zone. He couldn’t handle allowing Jesus to be that close, to service the filth on him to that measure.
I can’t say that foot washing should be discontinued from church services. It’s a valuable tradition that has layers of significance but I don’t think the point of the foot washing was feet, but allowing Jesus and others to be close to us and extending ourselves to others in the same way. It is about having the kind of humility that would allow someone else to know our junk and to be real with one another while honoring them.
We must allow others to see that we are human and being human is not a bad thing. We are the culmination of God’s greatest creation. We are now empowered to work with God to accomplish His plans on this big blue sphere. Our flesh and blood (and sometimes stank) humanity is the vehicle that God designed to make his purposes a reality.
No one who lives in the real world cares how pious we are, how few times you use foul language (except A.C.), or whether or not you have fashionable shoes. The fabric that makes up the meaning of this life has everything to do with how we navigate our internal life, communicate our present, and understand our past, keeping our baggage cleaned and in as good of shape as possible. To quote Jesus referencing the Pharisees, “the inside of the cup” is what we do or should care about because it is what God cares about.
We have a mutual humanity that is the lamp holder for the fire of God. It’s the way in which we carry the beauty of God and His love for us. We can take no credit and can earn no favor from acting like we did earn it. No, the very best thing we can do is swallow our pride and take the humiliating seat in front of the kneeling Jesus. And then go and do likewise.