I rarely accept the label “Christian,” referring to myself instead as a “follower after Christ.” The term “Christian” has become so bastardized as to be almost devoid of meaning. It is similar to someone referring to themselves as an “Evangelical.” What does that even mean? Which of the 376 possible definitions of Evangelical are you intending?
One effect of this definitional void is the proliferation of Christian symbols to the point that it has become faddish. We see symbols everywhere – WWJD, chalices, crosses, doves, fish, grapevines… They come to us as necklaces, toe rings, earrings, check imprints, Armor of God pajamas, Bible covers, car emblems/stickers, and tattoos. Godless individuals think nothing of adorning themselves with such symbols because they have become devoid of meaning.
The cross seems to be a current favorite. Crosses come in a wide variety of sizes and styles from crude wooden crosses held together with leather strapping, to solid gold crosses with embedded diamonds and emeralds. These crosses may be small and dainty as they dangle from an elegant ear, or enormous and gaudy, tattooed on the back of a UFC fighter who is mercilessly beating his bloodied opponent unto submission.
I have noted that a more recent trend among the Hollywood elite is to wear cross necklaces, but with the cross on its side. I have no idea what it is supposed to mean, and researching the subject has convinced me that no one else knows either.
Symbols. Fads. If I had any influence and could institute a fad, or a movement, I would institute the movement of the towel.
Just before Jesus died, he celebrated Passover with his disciples. This is recorded in all four gospels, but I’m most interested in the event as recorded by Luke and John. In Luke’s account, the disciples reclined at the table and had this wonderful moment with Jesus. He is loving on them and teaching them, telling them those things he wants them to understand before he is put to death.
Rather than seize this beautiful moment, verse 24 tells us, “A dispute also arose among [the disciples] as to which of them was considered the greatest.” The Master is imparting a wonderful gift before his departure, and the disciples, like middle-school boys, are arguing and posturing for kingdom position, not unlike politicians in our own day. Finally, Jesus reaches the limits of his patience, where he can take no more of the silly competition, and in John 13, he answers them with a towel.
The Master, the Creator of all that exists, humbled himself and became a servant to that which he created. While the glory-headed disciples jockeyed for kingdom position, the King stooped so low that he washed their dirty, smelly feet. Jesus is love in action. Having washed the feet of his disciples, who were likely red-faced from embarrassment, Jesus explained kingdom positioning to them.
“Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” John 13:12b-17
We are the servants, and we are not greater than our Master who said, “I am among you as one who serves.” Let’s trade in our crosses and fish for towels.
Victoriously in Christ!