You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” John 13:13-14
They came to church one day. I like church…most of the time anyway. One of the things I like about church is that it is so inside down. Like, if you go to a concert, the most expensive seats are right up front. If you go to a ballgame, you pay extra to sit down where the action is. That’s not true in church. The high value seats are all the way at the back. There might be 150 seats and only 50 people but most of the folks sit in the high-priced back seats. I can’t blame them. I’m usually the speaker at our church and I get pretty passionate sometimes. I’ve been known to accidentally, uh, well, you know, spit.
The story is told of a young preacher who was excitedly telling the people that Jesus was coming back. He said, “Jesus said, Behold, I am coming quickly.” He said it three times, each time just a little more enthusiastically. When he said it the third time, he lost his balance and fell off the stage and right in an older lady’s lap. He was so embarrassed and apologized profusely. She said, “That’s ok son, you warned me three times.” Well, anyway, I get the sitting in the back thing.
Now, not because I am the pastor, but my wife and I always like to sit near the front. I do like to be where the action is and trust me…it is rarely crowded. If you have COVID concerns, just sit near the front. Well, one day, a couple came and visited our church and guess what? They came right down and sat on the second row. I was surprised and when I said hi to them, I told them how glad I was to have them…especially on the second row.
Well, church started and, in case you are not too familiar with church stuff, usually we sing a while and then the preacher (in this case that is me) would speak a longer while. Make that a lot longer. So, as we were singing, I could hear this voice singing behind me. It was the lady who was visiting with her husband. She had a nice voice, and she was singing harmony and it seemed she knew most of the songs. Well, they just turned out to be real nice folks and the best part…they came back and sat week after week in the second row. She kept singing and I could tell she really seemed to enjoy it.
After several weeks, after services, Judy and I were talking with them after church and I asked her, “I enjoy your singing. Do you, or would you, like to sing a solo for us?” Without hesitation, she simply said, “No thank you. I just enjoy singing harmony.” Singing.Harmony. That struck me as pretty profound. For many folks, getting the opportunity to sing in front of a pretty large crowd would be seen as an opportunity to perform. But not for her, she was content to be one of the worshipers…just singing harmony.
There is an old southern gospel song by the Oak Ridge Boys that said, “Nobody wants to play rhythm guitar behind Jesus, everybody wants to be the lead singer in the band.” That song has stuck with me all through these many years. It is a good reminder to make sure that I remember that when I stand on a stage and speak—Jesus is the star of the show and I am just a rhythm guitarist somewhere in the band.
You see, pride is a dangerous thing—especially in Jesus circles. If anyone taught lessons on humility it was Him. He is the guy who performed slave labor one night and washed the feet of everyone in the room. And then, He said, “Now I’ve set an example for you. You should do the same.” I don’t think it was about washing feet. I think it was about putting everyone at the front of whatever line you are in. It means remembering that you are not the most important person is the room.
It may surprise you to know that church can be a real pride factory. You would think that it would be the opposite, but people will be people and sinners will be sinners…even forgiven ones…even in church. So that is why my friend’s response was so, insightful. She didn’t need to be on stage, in fact, she didn’t want to be on stage. She was content to be singing harmony amidst all the worshipers on any given day. For sure, some people have to be on stage and that’s fine. We just need to remember that we are there because of Him and for Him. And if we forget…well, He has ways to remind us…like falling off the stage. And when we do, if we do, well, it’s good to know that He’s got that, too. Bro. Dewayne