March 31, 2023
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE READING:
“Therefore, put on the full armor of God. In so doing you will be able to stand your ground when the day of evil comes. After you have done everything you are able to in that day, you will be able to stand [before the throne of God with humble confidence.]” (Ephesians 6.13)
TODAY’S REFLECTION ON GOD’S WORD:
Two postures for the mighty one of God in Jesus Christ: to kneel in the service of God and to stand against the enemy. In Paul’s letter to the members of the body of Christ in Ephesus there is the unambiguous reminder that in “that day” we will be required to “stand.” Watching our children and grandchildren from birth to life, we observe early on these two postures.
Consider that their “crawling” is a form of kneeling. If it is such, even just for the sake of argument, then how is their crawling “a service of God”? As we consider how to best answer that question let us also consider that it might then answer our own question. What is that question? How many of us ask, sometimes on a daily or hourly basis, “What purpose does my life serve as a service of God?” It is one of the most consistent questions I hear people ask. I think there is a struggle in this area because we are led to believe that unless what we do is “big, spectacular, momentous and world-acclaimed” it really doesn’t amount to much. Am I wrong? So, when we watch a baby crawl from commando to all fours to sneaking up on us as a gleeful surprise, do we wonder what purpose their crawling serves? Did I hear someone say “You have to learn to crawl before you learn to walk.” Based on a familial experience, crawling may be critical to other cognitive developments. When one of my cousins, who was born challenged being an Rh Negative baby, still wasn’t talking much at three years of age, her parents were concerned. We all would be, too. Seeking counseling from a pediatric psychologist the experiment was attempted to restage the activity of crawling. No one remembered her crawling. They remember her sitting and one day she stood and started walking; with assistance, of course. So, all the furniture was moved to the wall of the office. Everyone was asked to get on the floor and crawl. Awkward? Well, to my cousin it was hilarious. She stood laughing in wonderment at what these “big” people were doing. With encouragement, they got her to join them on the floor. It was something they practiced to do at home. Before they knew it, she was talking and playing and interacting as never before.
What if the same were true for us in our spiritual lives? Remember when Jesus knelt before His disciples in the Upper Room and washed their feet? I doubt that He washed one set of feet, stood up, moved a “foot” further, knealt down, washed the next disciple’s feet, and repeated the stooping and standing process until the task was complete. Can you imagine Jesus crawling around the dining table set for the Seder/Passover feast? You won’t see that in DaVinci’s famous “Last Supper”! But, it is significant because of Jesus’ teaching about “serving and not being served.” He said, “The greatest among you is the servant of all.” It wasn’t just a calling to awareness of the path for the disciples. It was an affirmation of what Jesus understand about Himself as the Son of God who would be their Lord and Savior, Messiah and Christ. Stop and consider, “Walk the walk and talk the talk.” Now consider, “Walk the talk and talk the walk.” Now let’s go one step more, “Crawl and serve, kneel and serve God.” Footwashing is a powerful experience for the giver and the receiver. I doubt seriously we will see our governmental leaders, civic leaders and maybe even our spiritual leaders do that. I doubt many people would be comfortable enough to allow it to happen. That is one of those “flesh and blood” moments which remind us we are called to be engaged in a spiritual battle of wills and ways. Even Peter struggled when Jesus came to wash his feet. He dared to defer but Jesus responded, “Unless I wash you then you have no part in me.” How could Peter survive “apart” from Jesus whom he loved and pledged his service to for life? The truth is that he couldn’t. But, until he experienced that crawling and kneeling (which happened when he denied Jesus three times following the Passover meal and the condemnation of Jesus to the cross), he had lost his will and way.
So, how do I connect crawling and kneeling as “service of God” beyond the foot washing experience? Crawling and kneeling both assume a posturing of “movement” with a desire to rise up. We are not intended to be satisfied with merely crawling any more than we are satisfied with kneeling. Both postures, however, are critical to our spiritual walk and our spiritual warfare. Is there anything more endearing, and humbling, than to see the one you love looking up at you? When it is that baby, whether it is ours or not, who crawls up to you and looks up, we have the unreserved desire to pick them up. We don’t just pick them up, we raise them up. We lift them up high. We praise them. We jiggle them with laughter (though some are not real happy about that). We draw them close and love on them. Then when their wiggling persists, we put them down and the continue their journey.
Couldn’t the same be said for us in our “service of God”? How vital it is to kneel and to humbly serve before God. We do not, or should not, do so for acclaim, praise or reward. We do so to show God we love Him and derive from Him our sense of worth, value and belonging. Jesus reprimanded the disciples as they held back the throng of children brought to Him for blessing (whether it was for affirmation or healing we do not know.) He said to them, “Go to the extreme effort of bringing these children to Me. Do not hinder them. Become like them for to such belongs the Kingdom of Heaven.” We have to remember that in the journey to the cross, Jesus crawled as well. He bore the weight of His own cross in such a weakened state of the flesh that He stumbled and fell. He was not kneeling to the leadership of Israel or Rome. He was kneeling before God ready to crawl up the hill if need be. I can even imagine Jesus kneeling before Thomas in the Upper Room as He did when He washed Thomas’ feet. This time, however, it was to lift up His eyes so they could see “eye to eye” as Jesus said, “Touch the nail prints here and put your hand in My side where it was wounded by the spear.” As low as Thomas may have felt, his posture went lower to honor Jesus with recognition of “I believe.” Jesus would respond, “You believe because of what you see. Greater will it be for those who have not seen and yet believe.” And there will be “that day” when every knee shall bow and tongue confess that Jesus is both Christ and Lord.” Then, and only then, shall we be able to walk by faith and not by sight to enter into our place in Heaven which He prepared just for us.
A PRAYER FOR TODAY:
Father, thank You for equipping us with the truth of purpose and calling as we live in these days. May all we say and do bring glory and honor to Your name. May it also present the desire of Your hope for all people to be Your children in worship and in praise through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.