Stooping Before Each Other

We’ve reached Maundy Thursday in our Pietist Option devotional. Thanks to Kurt Frederickson (Simi Valley, CA) of Fuller Seminary for sharing today’s reflection.

I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)

Followers of Jesus live under and by the cross. Our lives are characterized by the giving of ourselves to others in Jesus’ name. It is not an easy way of life. Too often we are inclined towards selfishness, winning, competition, and self-promotion. German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer described sin as “the heart turned inward on itself.” Jesus calls us to a different way.

Jesus washing his disciples' feet
Detail from a Sri Lankan mural, of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet – Creative Commons (Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

On the final Thursday of his earthly life, Jesus gathers his disciples and recasts the Passover meal pointing towards his cross — this bread is my body, for you; this wine is my blood, for you. During that meal, Jesus stoops before his disciples and, with a towel and a basin, washes their feet. Then Jesus says: This is the example I have set for you! This is how you are to live with each other. You are to stoop before each other.

According to Chris Gehrz, a pietistic instinct calls us back “to the motivations and actions of the Servant who stooped” (The Pietist Option, p. 64). We let go of our self-centered ways. We put others first. As we stoop, our lives, our families, our churches are transformed. As we stoop, we become witnesses of the Good News. For God’s glory and our neighbor’s good.

Father, forgive us for our selfish ways. We live in this place too often.
We see the actions of your Son and desire to live this cross-shaped life as well.
Empower us to stoop before others. In the name of Jesus, Amen.