For much of my life, serving the poor meant, “We’re showing the love of God to those in need. Serving them shows them that God loves them.”
There’s gospel truth in that. But I was missing the other side of it. The side that wanted to remind me of my own need for salvation through Jesus Christ.
We went on Saturday mornings to wash the feet of those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row. Our crew of 25 must have prayed for and washed the feet of 300. Many were grateful. Some cried. Some walked right passed us. Some checked themselves into the mission thereafter. We felt good about what God was doing.
BUT THEN THE UNEXPECTED HAPPENED. I realized Jesus’ love for me (and for the other’s on bended knee). By touching hardened urban feet, the Holy Spirit taught me what we were doing was also a metaphor for how Jesus continually washes our souls. I couldn’t stop thinking about how much my own sin perpetually “smells and looks” to Jesus. And yet Jesus did not hesitate to get himself dirty by becoming one of us [John 1:14]. He touch our dirtiness [John 13:1-5]. Today He spiritually cleanses us from the filthy residue of our evil [1 John 1:9; Heb. 7:24-37].
Love always changes things. Sometimes we unexpectedly learn that giving it to others is also the way Jesus reveals it to us.