Have you ever started a new job uncertain of your duties? Standing around doing nothing, not because you’re lazy or unwilling to work, but because you’re just not sure what it is you’re supposed to be doing? It’s an awful feeling. If you’re lucky, the company gave you an employee handbook to study and a qualified trainer to answer your questions as you ease into the new position. If not, you end up learning by trial and error.
When Jesus “hired on” his first twelve, He remained present with them for three years and trained them in as apostles. He referred often to their “employee handbook” — the scrolls with which they were familiar, and made it relevant and applicable for them. The apostle John said he had seen with his eyes and touched with his hands the word of life (1 John 1:1). Imagine being able to touch with your own hands the body of Christ. Wouldn’t it have been nice to physically walk hand in hand with the King Himself for three years when you first became a Christian?
Interestingly enough, those first trainees in the kingdom of God who could touch the body of Christ, pretty much stood around doing nothing during those first few training years. In fact, the King didn’t even expect much from them until He physically left the planet.
Instead, He promised a Helper would come and finish their training and then the real work would begin.
They were told to wait, not work.
3After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 6So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:3-8)
When the power of the Holy Spirit came upon them, they got to work. They didn’t stand around not knowing what they were supposed to be doing. They were completely equipped for every good work and they knew why they were there. It amazes me how often Jehovah’s Witnesses will brag about the amount of hours they spend in ministry and quote from 2 Timothy 3:16-17 yet never rely on the promised Helper.
But to be fair, it happens an awful lot in the church as well.
In the secular world we may pursue after careers or fame and call it purpose. In Christian circles the language may change to “my calling,” yet I suspect a lot of us are too impatient to wait for power from the promised Helper. And if the Helper is not in it, the sense of wasted potential is the same and produces that standing around-doing nothing syndrome. I think many of us are like that employee in training. We’re not unwilling or lazy, we just don’t quite understand what it is we’re supposed to be doing. A good place to start would be the employee handbook, the Bible, since it promises to train and equip us for every good work. We even have a more complete manual now than the first disciples, but they heard Jesus pray and witnessed His miracles first hand. He Himself trained them. But the Helper He sent them is still the trainer we have today. His words to them were, “wait for the gift my Father promised” (Acts 1:4). The effectiveness of the church was dependent on the gift of the Holy Spirit then and it is just as dependent on Him today. Have you asked for this gift of the Holy Spirit working in your life? And for what purpose?
The reason you were saved by grace was for a work He designed and prepared for you.
8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
And the reason He gave spiritual gifts to mankind were many, but chiefly to give glory to the GIVER not the gift (2 Corinthians 9:11-15).
We were not left here just so we could enjoy a Sunday morning service together. We are here to give Him glory as ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). We are His visible body.
19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
A temple for God to inhabit; Imagine that! Our individual bodies have been bought and washed by the blood of Jesus. Just as God prepared a body for Himself in the person of Jesus, we too had to be prepared for our purpose as the body of believers in Christ (Hebrews 10:5).
The act of washing the disciple’s feet was not just to represent the humility of our Lord and therefore provide a lesson in serving others, but within it Jesus was also preparing the body (His church or congregation). His time to depart was at hand. He was about to break the bread and disperse it among those who would now become His body on earth.
3Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
9“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” 10Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. (John 13:3-11)
Do you want to participate in the body of Christ and be His hands and feet? Then we must be washed. A Holy God wants to inhabit His temple which is the body here on earth. The temple He wants to use is tainted by sin. By forgiving our sin He prepared a clean place to dwell. If you want to be used by God, don’t just read the manual; Be cleansed by God. For unless He washes you, you have no part in Him.
16Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 17Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf. (1 Corinthians 10:16-17)
When Jesus offered His body in sacrifice it was completely without sin. Think about that. Each and every member of His body had not succumbed to sin. His tongue told no lie, His hands shed no blood, and His feet did not run toward temptation. Though the body of Christ, known as the Church, has been cleansed as a whole, we as individuals need our feet washed daily.
12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. (Romans 6:12-14)
When we lay it all down at the cross to be cleansed, we will be a people ready, willing and able to let the indwelling Spirit of Christ perform His work through us. We weren’t “hired on” to stand around and just call ourselves employees, but to actually do the work of the Master. For that to happen, He made us to be a new creation by filling us with His Spirit. And by that Spirit, we have been empowered. Do you know and trust that the power that resurrected Jesus from the dead is the same power that is in you?
18I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Ephesians 1:18-23)
The dwelling of God is with man. We are His body. And His body has been given authority under the headship of Jesus Christ. Has the world seen and touched this body? Do they see Christ or something more like those employees standing around not sure what they’re supposed to be doing? The promised power is here but often times viewed more like an inheritance waiting for us in the bank. Are we just biding our time until we get to heaven, instead of drawing from that account right now and sharing it?
7I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:7-12)
Now, why are you here?
Keep yourself in God’s love,