Some folks have a foot fetish. I, on the other hand, have a foot phobia. I do not like feet – not big ones, not small ones. I do not like them in a box. I do not like them in my socks.
Which is why I also avoid foot washing services. For you non-initiated, a foot washing service, is a rite in some Christian denominations where the members kneel before and wash the feet of one another. This is done out of obedience to Christ who called us to follow His example.
The Lord and I have argued about this at times. Lord, I want to be an obedient disciple. I am glad to tithe, even willing to up it to 11%. And I am happy to read my Bible and pray every day – but can we just forget about foot washing? Fortunately, my faith tradition has spiritualized foot washing as deeds of service for one another.
But then I went to Haiti. The big crusade was about to begin, and several thousand folks were expected to jam the soccer stadium each evening. I was the guest speaker and it was a big deal.
My face was plastered on posters and banners throughout the Port au Prince area. My voice would be broadcast throughout the nation by radio. My ego was more inflated than a ticket to Disney World.
The sponsoring churches and pastors met beforehand to pray for a great moving of God. It was then that my translator garbled something to me about a foot washing. I went into near cardiac arrest.
The bigtime preacher and the key pastor were expected to start it off, on the platform, in front of the church. He began. He knelt at my snow white, soft, tender feet and washed away the lint from my socks.
I then knelt at his aged, black feet and I saw Haiti. He had seldom worn shoes which caused his feet to be calloused and stained with the texture of tree bark. His toenails were distorted and strange. I was more than repulsed.
But – I went to Haiti to touch people with the Gospel. Should I not be willing to touch this good man’s feet in order to do that? I poured the water and gently toweled his feet dry.
As I did, something died within me. It was a putrid pocket of pride. By washing his feet, He washed my heart. This was exactly the kind of cleansing I needed before I should stand before the throng and proclaim the truth.
Something also happened in the hearts of the Haitians who were present. They witnessed the great white hope from Texas, as he humbled himself at the feet of one of their own. They saw me wash the dust and the dung of Haiti from this beloved pastor’s feet and it was as if I were washing theirs.
It was in that singular moment that I had earned the permission to speak the Gospel to them.
Humility is probably the most understated of virtues and yet its power to impact is exponential.
Paul reminds us that Christ “humbled Himself” in order to accomplish the redemption of mankind. He chose to submit Himself to self-serving leaders who twisted justice into the form of a cruel cross. Jesus humbled Himself to reconcile all men to Himself (Colossians 1:20)
Pride tends to be met with pride while humility provokes a humble response in others. Perhaps that’s why Paul told us to embrace Christ’s attitude. (Philippians 2:5)
You said some exceptionally hurtful words to your wife. Now she says, “I’m leaving.” Humble yourself! Wash her feet by taking responsibility for your part in the mess. The words, “I am sorry,” have dressed many wounds and averted countless disasters.
Your son is angry that he must do chores. As a parent, you feel you have the right to demand it, but your demands are met with defiance. Humble yourself. Wash his feet by helping him gather up his dirty laundry.
The group that you lead is dead-locked and the infighting is out of control. Humble yourself. Wash their feet by laying aside your agenda to support that of another.
The crusade ended and was regarded as a raging success. The Lord used me and my team to reach many spiritually hungry Haitians for Jesus.
He washed away the sins of many, but it began with the washing of the feet of one.