Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, Lord, do you wash my feet? Jesus answered him, What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand. Peter said to him, You shall never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I do not wash you, you have no share with me. Simon Peter said to him, Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head! Jesus said to him, The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you. For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, Not all of you are clean.
When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
In The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis presents Hell as a place not of sulfur and flames, but as an infinite frontier of loneliness. All those in Hell abide in constant strife with those around them, and so these empty people regularly relocate their dwellings, moving further and further from each other – an opted solitude.
And so, were it not for the grace of Christ, the Hell that would threaten our own selves ever looms: tempting us to give in to selfishness, hatred, strife, and division. Paul warns us of this danger in Galatians 5:19-20 – “Now the works of the flesh are evident…enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions…” Many a church business meeting could use a reading of those verses.
People surely wonder why we four have chosen to live in such an unorthodox way – together, under the same roof, sharing meals, bills, work, etc. The answer is simply that we may drive out the tendrils of Hell that would encroach upon our souls. Living together means making concessions, deferring for the other, holding one’s tongue, working diligently for the rest without expecting thanks. Each of us has experienced these opportunities in ways we may have missed had we chosen more traditional living arrangements. If Hell is solitude, Heaven is community.
This is not my attempt to convince the reader that they ought to do what we’re doing. I hope simply that we all may find ways to engage with others in community – in uncomfortable, messy, genuine, daily togetherness. For that was how Christ knew His disciples; that is how He prepared them to bring His Gospel to the world.
Christ, the Son of God, chose humility – he served those who by all rights should be at His feet. May we, too, find God’s Gospel in community, as we take up our towels and follow the example of our Master.