Christ’s Example of Servanthood

Claude Houde

Jesus has been given all authority and power in heaven and on earth. In John 13, he was about to be handed over to the Romans and nailed to the cross. He was preparing through his resurrection to ascend into Heaven and be seated at the right hand of God. He was perfectly in the will of God, on the verge of enacting the greatest moment in human history.

However, at this critical moment, he does not give any orders. Instead, he gives an example of humility. Jesus takes a basin and washes the feet of his disciples. It was the duty usually reserved for slaves who had to wash the feet of their masters after long days of walking on dusty roads. “He said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you’” (John 13:12-15, NRSV). Jesus voluntarily takes on the tasks of a servant, calling his disciples and all believers throughout time to follow in his footsteps and imitate him.

My wife and I have not been perfect in this area, obviously. We’ve failed at times. However, we have always chosen to rely on the grace of God and to continue to humbly submit ourselves to Christ’s example in the following areas:

  • • Passion for God, for his people and for those who suffer.

  • • Generosity, because God’s heart has unlimited and unconditional kindness and generosity towards us.

  • • Faith in our prayer life and through our trials, losses, suffering, disappointments and struggles.

  • • Fidelity in our commitments and faithfulness in our obedience to the Word of God.

Jesus knew that nothing is more powerful than the model of our lives. If this was true in the time of Jesus, it is even more so today. The young generation is especially characterized by a zero tolerance policy for the whole “Do as I say and not as I do” line of thinking. Your behavior will speak louder than sermons or any advice in the lives of others, particularly young people.

Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.

Defanging Satan’s Attacks

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Many Christians quote one particular passage of Paul’s writings with a misunderstanding of what he was writing about. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:3-4, NKJV). Most of us think of strongholds or bondages such as sexual trespasses, drug addictions, alcoholism or other outward sins we put at the top of the ‘worst-sins’ list. However, Paul is referring here to something much worse than our human measuring of sins.

He isn’t speaking of demonic possession. In my opinion, the devil cannot enter the heart of any overcoming Christian and claim a place in that person.

The figurative meaning of Paul’s word for stronghold in Greek is “holding firmly to an argument.” A stronghold is an accusation planted firmly in your mind. Satan establishes strongholds in the hearts of God’s people by planting falsehoods and misconceptions about God’s nature. For instance, the enemy may plant a lie in your mind that you’re unworthy of God’s grace. He may whisper to you repeatedly, “You’ll never be free of your besetting sin. You haven’t tried hard enough. God has lost patience with you because of your constant ups and downs.”

The devil may try to convince you that you have a right to bitterness and that God doesn’t mind your animosity. If you keep listening to his lies, you’ll begin to believe them. These lies can become Satan’s strongholds.

The only weapon that scares the devil is the same one that scared him in the wilderness temptations of Jesus. That weapon is the truth of the living Word of God. According to Micah, we are to cling to this promise: “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:18–19). We do not subdue our own sins. God will subdue them through repentance and faith.

The Savior in the Storm

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

The greatest danger we all face is not being able to see Jesus in our troubles. Instead, we see ghosts. In Matthew 14, Jesus ordered his disciples into a boat that was headed for a storm. The Bible says he made them go before him in this boat he must’ve known was headed for troubled waters. It would be tossed about like a bobbing cork, and where was Jesus? He was up in the mountains overlooking the sea. He was praying and seeking his Father in solitude, then in the darkest hours of the night, he walked out on the lake to meet the disciples.

You would think that at least one disciple would have recognized what was happening and said, “Jesus said that he would never leave us or forsake us. He sent us on this mission; we are in the center of his will. He said the steps of a righteous man are ordered by God. Look again. That’s our Lord! He is right here! We’ve never once been out of his sight.”

However, not one disciple recognized him. They did not expect him to be in their storm. They never expected him to be with them or even near them, but he did come, walking on the water.

There was only one lesson to be learned from their experience. It was a simple lesson, not some deep, mystical, earth-shattering one. Jesus simply wanted to be trusted as their Lord in every storm of life. In that peak moment of fear when the night is the blackest and the storm is the angriest, Jesus always draws near to us in order to reveal himself as the Lord of the flood, the Savior in storms. Psalm 29:10 proclaims, “The Lord sat enthroned at the Flood, and the Lord sits as King forever.”

Christ wants his followers to be able to maintain their confidence in the Lord, their worship of God’s glory and their brotherly love for one another even in the blackest hours of their trials. This is how scripture says, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer(Romans 12:10-12, my emphasis).

Boldly Facing Our Failures

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

When Adam sinned, he tried to hide from God. When Jonah refused to preach to Nineveh, his fear drove him into the ocean, trying to flee the presence of the Lord. After Peter denied Christ, he left to weep bitterly.

Adam, Jonah, and Peter ran away from God, not because they lost their love for him but rather because they feared that the Lord was too angry to have mercy on them.

The accuser of the brethren waits like a vulture for you to fail in some way. At that point, he uses every lie in hell to convince you that God is too holy or you are too sinful to ever come back. He makes you afraid you are not perfect enough or that you will never rise above your failure.

If Moses, Jacob or David had resigned himself to failure, we might have never heard of these men. Yet Moses went back to the land he had fled and rose up to become one of God’s greatest heroes. Jacob faced his sins, was reunited with the brother he had cheated and reached new heights of victory. David ran into the house of God, found forgiveness and peace, and returned to his finest hour. Jonah retraced his steps, did what he had refused to do at first and brought a whole city to repentance. Peter rose out of the ashes of denial to lead the church to Pentecost.

In 1958, I sat in my car weeping. I had been unceremoniously dumped from a courtroom after I believed that I was led by God to witness to seven teenage murderers. My attempt to obey God and to help those young hoodlums looked as though it were ending in horrible failure.

I shudder to think of how much blessing I would have missed if I had given up in that dark hour. “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:20-21, NKJV). How glad I am today that God taught me to face my failure and go on to his next step for me. Even if we fail, God is desiring for us to return to him.

The Lord Is Our Peace

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Knowing and believing in God’s character as revealed through his names provides great protection against enemy attack. God declared to Israel through his prophet, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6, NKJV). The implication here is powerful. God is telling us that having an intimate knowledge of his nature and character, as revealed through his names, is a powerful shield against Satan’s lies.

This brings us to another of our Lord’s names: Jehovah Shalom. We find this name mentioned in the book of Judges. Here the Lord revealed himself to Gideon in the form of an angel (see Judges 6:22-24). What does this name, Jehovah Shalom, mean exactly? As a noun, the Hebrew word shalom means “completeness, health, welfare.” As a verb, shalom means to be completed or to make peace. It implies being whole and in harmony with God and man, having wholesome relationships. It also indicates a state of being at ease, having peace inwardly and outwardly, both spiritually and emotionally. In short, shalom signifies wholeness in a life or work.

Once more, I’m driven to ask, “What does this particular name of God have to do with me and with the church today?”

Shalom cannot be earned. We’ll never receive the Lord’s shalom until we realize, “This is serious business. This is God Almighty I’m dealing with, creator and sustainer of the universe. How can I continue taking him for granted? Why do I still test his grace, living with this lust as if he is deaf and blind to my secret acts?”

Do you tremble at God’s Word? Are you ready to obey everything it says? If so, you’ll receive the revelation of Jehovah Shalom. He’ll come to you personally as “the Lord, your peace,” filling your spirit with supernatural strength against every enemy.

This is what Christ was offering to his disciples when he said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33, NKJV). You can’t earn this kind of peace. It’s purely a gift from God that comes to the ready hearts of his servants.