It was a model of hospitality to provide guests with a means of rinsing their feet upon entering your home.  Jesus alluded to it in his conversation with Simon the Pharisee (see Luke 7:44).  But when he washed the disciples feet following the last supper, it wasn’t just about removing the day’s dust.  He was giving them an example of humble affection.  (see John 13:1-16) It’s our example too.

Let’s go back to that night: 12 disciples of varying degrees of spiritual aptitude.  One was a betrayer, one a doubter, one a denier, several who argued amongst themselves, all of them frequently faithless and dull.   Yet, the Bible in no way indicates that Jesus avoided or only cursorily cleansed the feet of any of them.  Jesus made no determination in his care that some were less worthy than the others.  He washed them all.  And then he followed up with the profound imperative: love one another as I have loved you.  (John 13:34)

If we confine our own humble affection to a yearly ritual of foot washing – or even to regular and ongoing acts of kindness – we miss the most important point of his directive: emulating the deep, pure, unconditional and transforming love of the Christ.

What if we truly washed the feet of everyone in our sphere?  I don’t mean the soapy water, bucket, and towel routine, but the more private mental one?  What if we strove to wipe away – in thought – whatever dirt and dust had accumulated on the mental images we hold of others?  Isn’t that really the kind of love Jesus was talking about?

That would include not only co-workers, neighbors, family members, and those with whom we go to church, but politicians, TV personalities, community, national, and world leaders.  In other words, everyone.

Everything in Jesus’ teachings points to this thorough individual spiritual work: the Sermon on the Mount; his healing ministry; his resurrection.  Is there anything in his record that says just love those that love you?  No, in fact he rebukes that. (see Luke 6:32)  He also rebuked just cleaning the outside and leaving the inside untouched.  (Matt. 23:26)

One of his final statements to his followers – and hence to us – makes clear what his expectation was: By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.  (John 13:35)  That must include universal humanity if we are to be truly obedient.

And that’s a lot more than just clean feet!  It’s a sparkling new world.

Here’s a lovely thought from 19th century theologian (and the founder of the religion I follow), Mary Baker Eddy:  “Cleanse every stain from this wanderer’s soiled garments, wipe the dust from his feet and the tears from his eyes, that you may behold the real man, the fellow-saint of a holy household.”  (Retrospection and Introspection, page 86)

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

This is how St. Paul finishes the sentence: …which was also in Christ Jesus.  (Phil. 2:5)  The Apostle gives numerous clues what that mind is – and what it isn’t.  For example, it’s not the carnal mind which is enmity against God.  But it is the comfort of love.  It’s not doing things through strife or vainglory.  It’s doing God’s good pleasure.  (you can find many more examples in Paul’s letters in the New Testament)

But the best indicator of that mind which was also in Christ Jesus is the Master himself.  His words and works give a powerful insight into what he was thinking.

When he fed the multitude with just a few items, was he afraid or worried?  No.  He was grateful and compassionate.  (see Matt. 14:15 to 21)

When he healed the sick and raised the dead and dying, was there any sense of limitation in his outlook?  No.  He freely shared health and life and goodness with all.

When he was on the cross, did he condemn or criticize?  No, he forgave and forgot.  (see John chapter 19)

And St. Paul advises that we have the same mind.  That means replace fear with love; stifle limitation with generosity; overcome death by living more abundantly.  But it especially means recognize God – his Father and your Father – as able to do all things.  (see Luke 1:37)  That is the most important mindset to embrace.

Jesus explained it this way, “The Son can do nothing of himself; but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.”  (see John 5:19)

Let this humble, expectant, joyful, obedient, worthy, compassionate mind be in you.  And just see how it transforms your life.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

The last enemy.

March 14, 2013

Here’s how St. Paul explains it: The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.  Think of that.  Death is to be destroyed.  Maybe not right off the bat, but in the end, death is destroyed.  What does that mean for all the other enemies: sickness, fear, poverty, pain, loneliness, anger, resentment, sin, and all the etceteras?  Doesn’t it follow then, that if death is the last one, all of these additional enemies will be destroyed first?

When you look at Jesus’ life and example, he was regularly destroying each and every one of those enemies – including death.  He was making plain that any condition that challenged the health, happiness, and holiness of mankind could – and should – be destroyed.  Wow.  And he even said that we – his followers – would do the same thing (see John 14:12).  Double wow.

When you look out at all the solutions provided by the world – medicine, psychiatry, hypnotism, therapy, and on and on – not one of them offers any kind of pathway to destroy ALL of these enemies.  Sure, there are some options for managing, or even occasionally curing, but nothing that can come at all close to destroying.

Does that mean that we have to wait for some final event where all suffering will be destroyed at the same time as death?  No!  The Bible is really clear on this.  Jesus taught his followers to deal with all inharmony here and now.  And they did.  The book of Acts includes numerous examples of them healing sin, disease, and death.  And Jesus pointedly said this was the duty of anyone that followed him – you and me included.  (see John 14:15 and Matt. 10:8)  Triple wow.

So, let us search our hearts, ramp up our faith, deepen our understanding, spend more time pondering the true meaning of the Gospels, and expand our commitment to really be followers of our dear Lord as he commanded.  Since he was not kidding when he told us to go and do likewise, it is surely possible for us to be obedient.  And no enemy can withstand that.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

Business as usual?

March 7, 2013

For the Pharisees, it was business as usual.  This upstart in their midst, of course he wasn’t the Christ.  They would have known if the Christ had actually come.  Therefore, there was no reason to listen, or learn, or grow.  A true Christ would have followed their rules, after all!  A true Christ would have been one of them.

They asked him, “How long dost thou make us to doubt?  If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.”  Jesus said, “the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.”  (see John 10:24, 25)  It was the same answer he’d given to John the Baptist, who’d been one of his biggest supporters.  But locked in prison, fearing for his life, he’d become discouraged.  Jesus reassured John’s disciples this way: “Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.  And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.”  (Luke 7:22, 23)

For the Pharisees, being offended was business as usual.  They knew the letter of the law inside and out.  And Jesus wasn’t following it!  Healing on the Sabbath? Check!  Hanging out with publicans and sinners? Check!  Touching lepers, bleeding women, and dead bodies?  Check!  Making himself equal with God?  Gasp!  Check!

Jesus, on the other hand, knew the spirit of the law inside and out.  He knew that restoring the health and salvation of his fellowman was the only real evidence that he was following his job description: Immanuel, or God with us!  He knew that sin, disease, and death were offensive, but that curing them was divinely natural.

The Pharisees had surely learned this passage from Psalms: “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”  (119:165)  But they apparently put their own spin on it.  We must learn from their mistakes.  Perhaps the truth is, that if we’re offended it’s because we’re not loving God’s law enough.

Let us not be about business as usual.  Let us instead – whenever offense (of any kind) rears it’s ugly head – love more.  This is simply in keeping with Jesus’ two great commandments: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  (see Matt. 22:37-39)  Is there any offense that can withstand that kind of love?

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.