Humility. I didn’t pick this subject. It kind of snuck up on me. I was looking for something else. Wisdom? Yes. Definitely. Godliness? Absolutely. I’ve been looking for that most of my life. Peace in God? I think so. I’ve been trying hard to understand what it means to follow God through times in life that don’t make sense; painful, unjust times…clinging to God when betrayed, alone, abandoned, blamed and then finding out my hold slipped.
He was clinging to me.
In the midst of anger, resentment, and questioning God, I found myself searching for some way to follow my Savior’s footsteps. Even through all the years of going to Sunday School, memorizing Bible verses, going to a Christian university, then eventually preaching and teaching the Bible, I always felt I was coming up short.
As I left a position overseas at a children’s ministry, I struggled to find myself. What was next? Another ministry? I knew I wanted to help other people also experience a passion for God, especially in those years when so many questions collided with life. I knew a God who had been faithful even when all of life came crashing down around me. Why didn’t He seem faithful to many others?
While looking at John Brown University with our daughter, the administration, faculty, and staff seemed to desire to guide students in a faith journey: a journey to find out what they believed and why. Many offered a genuine, real, dynamic personal relationship with Jesus as the best alternative to other things the students might be seeking. I wanted in.
“Circumstances” (I believe it was God’s hand) led me to a part-time custodial job at JBU. I chose the job I had done while I was in college…because I wanted God and the way to Him pointed toward, “HUMILITY!”
Jesus lived humility by sacrificial love and that same servanthood love flowed from His Heavenly Father who is love. “This is love: not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice.” 1 John 4:10
What motivated Jesus? Only face to face will we fully know. He lived His character, also known as His Name. We DO know God planned, before the creation of the world, the sacrifice of His Son, the second person of the Godhead (1 Peter 1:19-20). Before He spoke the world into existence, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit desired a relationship with us. The perfect Union included us through love. This isn’t “casual, surface, relationship stuff.” Immortal, Invisible, Creator draws us into solid, deep, intimate, true, caring, loving, knowing, relationship.
Jesus shows us the Father’s heart, God-Who-Is-Love, by offering himself as a servant, not just to wash feet but in His total being. When Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, John 13:1 tells us He showed the disciples the full extent of His love or He loved them to the end. His love wasn’t just washing His disciples’ feet. That was just a picture of humility, being a servant, being “OTHERFUL.” He focused not just on Himself but on bringing others into Himself. He was showing them humility and giving them an example of love that would be fully played out on the cosmic stage later that night and the next day. The “fullest extent” or “loving them to the end” was His sacrificial death on the cross, not just washing feet.
Jesus explains by His actions that His complete love or His full love is lived in humility or “otherfulness.” “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his/her life for his/her friends.” John 15:13 And in a few hours He would do just that. The Apostle Paul expresses love completely in Philippians 2:5-8 as he is discussing humility. Jesus’ humility was obeying His Father by loving fully and completely. He focused on giving and receiving, not on getting or grasping. He emptied himself and became “otherful”: full of obeying His Father’s will and commands, and full of giving His life to welcome His creation into a relationship with the perfect Fulness of the Triune Godhead.
My battle is myself, PRIDE, becoming “me-ful,” being noticed, being important, being accepted. Jesus asks me to become like Him, humble, otherful, full of love for His Father and full of love for His neighbor, us. I’m on a faith journey following Jesus. Want to come with me?
Tim Peterson is currently serving as part-time custodian for John Brown University after serving as missionary, counselor, administrator, and pastor at two ministries and two churches. He loves to walk with people one step closer to Jesus.