02 September 2008

Called to Be: Foot-washer

My second column for the K-State Collegian. It ran in today's paper:

Mike Rowe has been getting down and dirty for years on Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” series.
Every week he travels across America in search of jobs that he terms “dirty work, but somebody’s gotta do it.”
Rowe’s list of “Smelliest Places” on the Discovery Channel Web site includes the Lift Pump Chamber at San Francisco’s Waste Treatment Center and the back of an Ohio State Department of Transportation Roadkill Recovery Truck near Akron, Ohio.
While hot-tar roofing and whale autopsies may not have had much of an audience 30 years ago — when Americans understood that the world was held together by people who worked through heat and grime and went in hands first — today’s TV viewers are fascinated by these tasks, as long as a screen remains between them and the stench.
A 2007 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists occupations with the largest rate of job decline. Apparently, not everyone feels called to be a telemarketer.
The number of people working as file clerks is expected to decline 41 percent by 2016. Stock clerks and order fillers also are waning in popularity.
These jobs are not necessarily dirty, but most of K-State’s students aspire to bigger and better careers.
Since the beginning of man, there have been jobs that nobody wants to do. If Rowe had been around to host a reality series in the first century, it might have been hard to find a job that did not include mud and sweat. People were used to getting dirty, but there was one job that was reserved for the lowest of the low: foot-washer.
In Palestine, back in the day, this was not even a job for Israelite slaves. It was reserved solely for prisoners of war. If you think feet are disgusting now, imagine the feet of someone who walked around all day in sandals, trudging through dust and desert.
Being a foot-washer meant performing the humblest of tasks. Socks and tennis shoes were yet to exist. Feet were probably dry and cracked and caked with dirt. No doubt, they smelled bad.
What does this history lesson have to do with our lives today? More specifically, how does it apply to those who love Jesus? John lays it out in Chapter 13 of his gospel, just before the Passover Feast and the evening meal is being served. Jesus gets up and begins washing his disciples’ feet.
Maybe the disciples understood what Jesus was doing was a big deal. Maybe they grasped the concept that the one whom they called “Lord” was serving them.
When Jesus finished, he said, “Do you understand what I have done for you?” It’s doubtful the disciples did understand. Jesus continued, “I have set you an example, that you should do as I have done for you.”
If the disciples were to take one thing away from the evening, it was this: to remember that no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.
It’s not always easy, but Jesus did not die to make us feel good. He wants us to take risks in living differently, in our relationships and with our time and money.
Feelings of pride, inadequacy or fear get in the way. We forget Christ’s example so easily. Philippians 2:6-7 talks about how Jesus humbled himself to the position of a servant. This is a difficult concept to grasp: God to man. .
As servants of God, we are called to be foot-washers.


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