Chasing ‘Towels’ not ‘Titles’

Posted: November 20, 2010 in The Front Lines - helping others

In a book by Dino Rizzo, entitled “Servolution”, he describes the story in John 13.  In those days, the feet were arguably considered the dirtiest part of the body.  They walked most places on dirty streets (often covered in animal dung) and dusty roads with only sandals to protest them.  When groups of people would come into a home or gathering place, it was typically the lowest of the servants who had the responsibility of washing everyone’s feet.  In this incredible story of servanthood, Jesus shocked the disciples and messed with their heads when he chose to be the one to wash their feet prior to the Passover meal.  Jesus was their rabbi and leader and it was culturally inconceivable for him to pick up that towel and choose to wash their feet.  I’m sure it was also a bit embarrassing and humiliating; especially right after they were just arguing amongst themselves who was the greatest in their group. Then, Jesus follows up this humble act by telling them, “I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him…”

Rizzo describes this scene in this way:

It’s as if Jesus is saying to them, “Look, it’s been more than three years, and we need to put an end to this competition and pride.  If you want to really understand this gospel, and if you want to be able to truly be “great’, you all need to get used to being a servant.  We’re never going to accomplish any lasting change in the world if you don’t choose to accept what I have just shown you – this is the heart of serving and what I’ve actually called you to be are servants.   So, I’m not giving you a title.  A significant life is really about a towel.  Everything else is empty.”

We have all had times when we have seen a need but have walked on by because we thought meeting that need would cost us too much; a loss of time, a loss of money, a loss of status or reputation, a loss of what we’d rather be doing.  But Jesus doesn’t see picking up the towel and serving another person as a loss of anything.  In fact, He told His disciples, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”  Serving one another is really the path of blessing! This was confirmed later in the book of Acts.  The early members of the church were called “Christians”, not because they had given themselves this name but because the people who saw them in action gave it to them.  They called them Christians because they were emulating the life and the service of Jesus Christ.  Throughout the book of Acts there are examples of a ‘servolution’ going on, causing huge uproars in cities and even reaching to other countries – all sparked by followers of Christ simply serving and loving like Jesus did.

Jesus’ words, “Love one another as I have loved you,” are the fuel for every church changing – community transforming ‘servolution’. When we look at the unimaginable grace we have been shown – that He loved us even before we knew Him – and we allow Jesus’ unbelievable love to be unrestrained in our hearts – we will discover an unlimited fuel source for life changing transformation through serving those around us.  If we simply remember Jesus, the one who sat on the throne with God the Father, crafted everything in the universe and gave up all His power and status to become a servant to those whom He created – giving His life for our sakes – it suddenly doesn’t become too difficult for us to stop at the basin of water to pick up the towel to serve others.

Dino Rizzo – ‘Servolution’


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