Brittany Tedesco / 02 MAR 2015 – A native ministry leader from India recently visited Christian Aid Mission and shared with us how he is figuratively washing the feet of people in India by meeting their practical needs while sharing the message of Christ with them.
Gifts sent from Christian Aid, he told us, are like the bowl, water, and towel Jesus used to wash the feet of His disciples. Jesus didn’t own those items; someone supplied them to Him so that He could serve His disciples.
As the ministry leader continued to express his gratitude for the bowl, water, and towel, I was left thinking about the feet.
Imagine with me the person you struggle most to love and respect, perhaps someone who’s knowingly and intentionally hurt you, someone who’s spoken badly of you to others, someone who’s betrayed you.
Now imagine kneeling on the floor, taking their bare feet in your hands, and washing them.
Did you bristle? Like I did?
Have you ever meditated on the humility of Jesus Christ? He washed the feet of His disciples—the very people He created—including the one who would betray Him.
“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:14-15 NKJV).
If you and I are honest, we’ll acknowledge how contrary following Jesus’ example is to our natures, our instincts. It’s difficult! And it requires something beyond our abilities: His indwelling spirit.
You might have heard that great numbers of Muslims are turning to Christ in the Middle East right now. Do you want to know why?
In a word, contrast.
More specifically, they’ve had their feet washed by native believers empowered by the spirit of Jesus Christ to follow His example. Radical Christians.
They’ve fled from an Islamic group following the example of their leader, Muhammad, who was a taker, a user, a ruthless military commander, a slave-owner, and an unforgiving, vengeful person. Radical Muslims.
In his biography (sīra) and teachings (Hadith), Muhammad taught his followers how to treat the kafir. A loose translation of this word renders it “unbeliever,” which seems like a rather benign word: just someone who disagrees with or disbelieves in something. According to Islam, however, a kafir is evil and cursed and is to be mocked, punished, terrorized, destroyed, crucified, dismembered, or beheaded.
The reason the leader of ISIS has chosen beheading as his murder method of choice is simple: he’s following closely the example of the founder of his religion, who watched as between 800 and 900 Jewish men and boys (kafirs) were beheaded in front of him in Medina in AD 627 (Sirat Rasul Allah, Page 464).
You’ve probably read about ISIS’ enslavement and rape of women and girls. Again, they are only following the example of their forerunner.
Wash the feet of their enemies? The proper protocol under Islam is to dismember them.
“Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides…” (Surat Al-Ma’idah 5:33).
Islam tells us to take revenge, to never forget a perceived wrong. Jesus tells us to forgive those who sin against us “seventy times seven” times. Jesus says “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27 NKJV).
It’s natural to want to strike back at our enemies, to indulge ourselves. It’s unnatural to follow Jesus down the narrow path of self-denial and servitude. Therein lies the contrast.
Satan approached Jesus, weak and hungry, in the desert with a trio of temptations. Our Lord’s response to each of these temptations stands in stark contrast to the foundation upon which Islam was built.
“Turn the stones into bread,” Satan told Jesus. Indulge yourself. You’ve earned it. You deserve it.
Jesus refused. Muhammad accepted. He advanced Islam through force, pillaging and killing those who opposed it. He took what wasn’t his and indulged.
Islam forces submission. Jesus came to serve.
“Bow before me,” Satan told Jesus, “and I’ll give you the kingdoms of this world.”
Jesus resisted. Muhammad succumbed. The goal of the religio-political system of Islam is to dominate the entire world. Islam is building an earthly kingdom.
In contrast, Jesus told us that His Kingdom is not of this world. Christianity can work under any political system because the Church is comprised of people—living stones—who’ve been called out of darkness and into the Light.
“Throw yourself from this cliff and call the angels to your aid,” Satan told Jesus.
Jesus said no. He would not test God.
Muhammad said yes. His god promises heaven to those who blow themselves up in jihad.
Speaking of heaven, Islam teaches that heaven is nothing more than a self-indulgent sexual playground—a continuation of the self-worship that started on earth.
Jesus’ heaven (i.e., the real heaven) is all about the worship of God, and the blessed forgetfulness of self that accompanies that worship.
The Muslims who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior have seen the contrast.
Georges Houssney, founder of Horizons International, conducted a survey of 100 Muslims who turned to Christ. Eight in 10 cited “the love of Christians” as one major factor in their decision.
The closer one adheres to the teachings of Islam, the more they will resemble a violent hater. The closer one follows the teachings of Jesus Christ, the more they will exemplify His love, humility, and selflessness…and the more likely they will be to pick up that bowl, water, and towel and get to work washing the feet of their enemies.
To equip native missionaries in the Middle East with the tools they need to wash the feet of the many refugees who’ve fled from ISIS, click here.