Embracing Grace: Signs of the Times

A 365 Day Devotional Journal

Day 37

Scripture: Joshua 24:15; John 13:1-20

Christ Washing Peter’s Feet, by Ford Madox Brown, 1821-93. Public Domain.

A prank involving signs swept the internet a number of years ago. It was a fictitious battle of sorts between two churches, Our Lady of Martyrs Catholic Church and Beulah Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Like most creative pranks, it was received with immediate belief by viewers. We were incredulous that two churches would stoop to battle over doctrine on their public church signs for the entire world to see. For many of us, it was too real initially to doubt. Believing is seeing, so the world says. After all, who would bother with making a set of fake church signs?

But the signs were all lies.

Cumberland received so much flack about it that they were forced to post a notice on their website stating that it was all a prank.1 A picture may be worth a thousand words, but in the interest of space I will just post the words:2

Our Lady Of Martyrs
Catholic Church:
ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN
Beulah Cumberland
Presbyterian Church:
 
ONLY HUMANS GO TO HEAVEN READ THE BIBLE
Our Lady Of Martyrs
Catholic Church:
GOD LOVES ALL HIS CREATIONS DOGS INCLUDED
Beulah Cumberland
Presbyterian Church:
 
DOGS DON’T HAVE SOULS THIS IS NOT OPEN FOR DEBATE
Our Lady Of Martyrs
Catholic Church:
CATHOLIC DOGS GO TO HEAVEN PRESBYTERIAN DOGS CAN TALK TO THEIR PASTOR
Beulah Cumberland
Presbyterian Church:
CONVERTING TO CATHOLOCISM DOES NOT MAGICALLY GRANT YOUR DOG A SOUL
Our Lady Of Martyrs
Catholic Church:
FREE DOG SOULS WITH CONVERSION
Beulah Cumberland
Presbyterian Church:
 
DOGS ARE ANIMALS THERE AREN’T ANY ROCKS IN HEAVEN EITHER
Our Lady Of Martyrs
Catholic Church:
ALL ROCKS GO TO HEAVEN

I admit I was one who laughed out loud, long and hard. Like all of us, I knew too well the viciousness we in the universal body of Christ treat those we do not trust or know, those who are not in our specific little group. If they did not grow up in our town, or were not part of our church when it was founded, well, they can just forget ever being accepted into the family, really accepted.

We judge by what we see on the outside.

We offer shame instead of unconditional acceptance.

Is it no wonder, then, that our love has grown cold?

Oh, they can attend, tithe, give offerings, work in the nursery, but forget about embracing them in the areas coveted by those who arrived first, regardless of the calling or gifting of God on that person. Gone is the mutual serving of one another, the holding of others as more important than ourselves. In its place is distrust. Gone is godly discernment. In its place is man’s judgment. Gone is honor. Gone is the love of Jesus. Sound like a church you know?

If we truly believe that Jesus is our example, when He washed the disciples’ feet, should we not wash the feet of our fellow believers, especially the believers who repel us? So many people interpret this passage of scripture in John chapter thirteen to mean that Christians should be serving the world. This is a good and vital thing to do, and I believe it is important, but this is not the example Jesus gave here. He washed his disciples’ feet.

Serving begins in the family.

A dysfunctional family cannot serve the world. It must first be healed.

It must begin with me. If I am not willing to make the first move to reach out to the body of Christ with the hand of love and service, then how will we reach the world? We cannot fulfill the Great Commission without love or trust of our fellow believers – it fractures us.

The church calendar says we have begun the season called “Lent.” Traditionally, this is a period of self-denial, of prayer and repentance, and of almsgiving. Rather than going through a ritual to make you feel ceremonially clean, chose rather to do what Jesus did. Wash your brother’s feet. Wash your sister’s feet.

Choose you this day whom you shall serve.1

Healing begins at home, in the living room.

In the kingdom of God, we move up by bowing down.

Read: Joshua 24:15; John 13:1-20. Journal your private thoughts.

Father God, you sent your Son, then You sent Your Holy Spirit, so that I will never be alone. Jesus, you demonstrated love, in that while I was yet a sinner, you died for me. You gave me a visual example of how to serve my brother and sister. You commanded us to go and preach the gospel, making disciples, something I cannot do without first exemplifying You. Help me to be a visual, living demonstration of Your love to my brother and sister, so that together, we can reach the world with Your gift. For the sake of the Kingdom, amen.

_____________________

1 http://www.cpmag.org/cpupdates.php?aid=629
2 http://www.ulblog.org/2008/09/28/churches-disagree-on-dogma/

Copyright © 2011, Érin Elise

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