Friday, March 22, 2013

Jump the Roadblocks

I have seen a phenomenon many times in congregations I have attended that I just don't understand.  Maybe it is a product of Americans' "rugged individualism," but we just don't want to be served.  Some of the most selfless people I know, who would give you the shirt off their backs, won't take so much as a meal from their sisters in Christ when they are sick.  Most of the time, these sisters take "no" for an answer, then have a "bless her heart" attitude.  "Bless her heart, she'll gives so much to others and won't accept anything for herself."

No entry
Shame on us!  And I mean us because I've been just as guilty.  How many times have I turned down an offer of "Anything I can do?" when I truly needed help but was too prideful to admit it?  How can my brother or sister in Christ fulfill Jesus's command to wash my feet if I keep them stubbornly under my chair?  I've heard people say "Don't steal their joy," a sentiment I can agree with, but what if we are doing much worse than that?  What if we are putting up a roadblock in someone's path of following Jesus?  To borrow Paul's phrase, may it never be!

When Peter, my favorite "foot in mouth" apostle, tried to stop Jesus from serving, it didn't work.  Picture the scene: Jesus is washing the disciples' feet; the dirty water swirls in the bowl, the Savior's towel is getting browner and browner. Peter sits squirming.  He's trying to subtly move around so his feet won't be accessible. He's thinking, "The Master should not be washing feet, especially not mine."  The whimsical part of me wonders if Peter had bad foot odor or toenail fungus he was embarrassed about.  Either way, he was incredulous that Jesus would stoop to such a task.  Peter tried to refuse, but Jesus was adamant.  Peter had to allow Jesus to serve him.  

Undoubtedly, there is a message here about allowing Jesus to wash us, but woven throughout the story is the idea of servanthood.  "You also ought to wash one another's feet" (John 13:14), Jesus said, and although the emphasis is on the service, one can only serve someone who is willing to be served.  Peter tried to put a roadblock in front of Jesus, but Christ ignored it.  

If we are going to follow Jesus, we must do the same.  Granted, sometimes there are real reasons to take no for an answer.  The brother with a weakened immune system really doesn't need visitors.  The family who has twenty people helping them move a two bedroom apartment might not need another warm body.  We have to use discernment, but I think most of the time we can tell when service is truly not needed and when someone is just putting up a roadblock.  If you feel your services would truly be helpful, then jump right over that Do Not Enter sign.  One of our precious older ladies had a stroke, and one of her friends asked if she could bring a meal.  Sweet Mrs. R said "Oh, no, I have frozen dinners. I'll be fine." Baloney!  Mrs. R does not prefer frozen meals over home cooked ones.  She just didn't want her friend to be "put out."  Thankfully, her friend didn't listen and showed up at her door with a warm meal in disposable dishes.  

In the weeks that follow, I challenge you to do two things:

1) If a brother or sister in Christ offers to serve you, let them!  Like you, they are doing their best to follow Jesus, and you aren't making their life any easier by stymieing their efforts.
2) If you see a way to serve your fellow sister in Christ, and she tries to stop you out of a mistaken sense that you are "bothered," ignore the roadblock.  Serve her.  Don't take her refusal as a sign that you are finished in your duty to her.  She needs you.

If you have ever been a "roadblock jumper," tell us about it below! 
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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