It’s Holy Week.
A time, usually, of rush and hurry for those of us involved in leading Churches. This year, I have been well prepared. Sermons are written and services are planned. Just for the record, I am not sat with my feet up! There are appointments in the diary
What I really wanted to do this week was devote some of my time to prayer and the Bible. To focus in and reflect upon this incredible week. As I have done so, I have been amazed at what God has been saying to me through it.
The passage I looked at this morning is one I have preached from many times before and quoted many times before. John 13 vs. 31 – 38. It contains Jesus famous saying;
A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John 13 vs. 34 – 35)
I fully expected to focus on those verses, instead, I felt that curious nudge of God to read on. Simon Peter, full of bluff and bluster promising to lay down his life for Jesus and the stark words of Jesus;
Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times! (John 13 vs. 38)
I find it quite easy to relate to Simon Peter. He is straight in there, he is keen and enthusiastic holds nothing back. He is all or nothing. The downside is, that his ego often gets in the way of what Jesus is doing. I found myself wondering if, at times. my own ego gets in the way of what Jesus wants to do. Richard Rohr says;
The only problem is that our culture teaches that ego is the only game in town. We take it a little too seriously and take the private ego as if it is full reality. The nature of the ego is that it tries to fix, name, control and insure everything for itself (Richard Rohr – Everything Belongs page 62)
When Jesus washes his disciples feet, Peter wants to be “completely washed” (John 13 vs. 9) – I read this as “I take am more religious than….”. When he offers to lay down his life for Jesus, what Simon Peter is effectively saying is “I am more committed than……”.
Jesus warning is one we all need to hear. If you live out of your ego only, it is not long before you will fall and that fall can be devastating.
Jesus operates very differently to Peter in this situation. Instead of ego He offers His vulnerability and in that vulnerability we encounter the reality of His love. In His vulnerability we see the real Jesus. He lowers Himself as He kneels and washes His disciples feet. He shares the meal with the disciples who would betray, run away and deny Him. He gives love without demanding a return.
Our ego can blind us to love. Vulnerability leads us towards love.
There are times when the ego has to go, we have to be truly vulnerable and allow so that the true us emerges. That is a scary thought. Of course, at one level, there are only a limited few I can really do that with, for obvious reasons.
It is, in prayer, I can be “safely vulnerable” because it is in that place I can find the full, wonderful and gracious love of God.
Are you prepared to let go of your ego, be vulnerable and find the love God gives?