I hate wearing shoes. Can’t stand it. They’re hot, restrictive and I don’t see the point. I admit the exceptions, like blizzards and on worksites. They might save you from falling objects and frostbite. Otherwise, no thanks.
I was thinking about this at the Baptist Hui last week: why do we wear shoes to church?
As I was day dreaming an image of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet came to mind. Imagine if it happened – if Jesus turned up today and said he wanted us to wash each others’ feet next Sunday. Literally. I reckon we’d feel a bit nervous. Feet are so personal and private and can be really messy. But that’s what Jesus came to do, right? Wash us. Make us clean.
I imagine what’d happen is at church the next week, the congregation would turn out full of people who don’t need their feet washed. Some of you went and got a pedicure. We’d fiercely pumice-scraped away all the rough dead skin, and neatly trimmed our toenails. No unsightly blisters or verrucas or ingrained dirt. Nice pretty feet.
What would it say about our belief in God, if we thought we needed to be clean before we could meet with Christ?
See I think that if Jesus wanted me to wash your smelly feet, I’d do it. “OK Jesus,” I’d say. “Let’s serve these people. Look at how humble I’m being.” But what about the other end of humility; to let someone else wash yours? What about the vulnerability it’d take to be exposed in that way, to let people see the unwashed mess that’s going on inside your shoes?
The theme for Hui this year was the acronym “Humility – Unity – Intimacy” which is meant to be a description of the church. Foot washing came up a few times. As it happens there’s two sides to that coin. Jesus challenges us to love our neighbours in all their messiness.
How much more of a challenge to let ourselves be loved by them in all of ours?