Speaker: Pastor Joe Pang
Author: Alan Hau
Passage: John 13: 8 – 14
Jesus was washing his disciples’ feet. It’s an onerous work. There’s no glamour in washing another’s body part. In fact, it’s embarrassing and somewhat uncomfortable for both the student and the teacher. If we actually decide to “take up our crosses” and follow Jesus, many things he calls us to do are not glamorous, but that’s when your Holy Spirit speaks to you and within lies transformation and growth. No pain, no gain.
Suicide Awareness day & Jesus invading your privacy
September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. It is a special day for all those suffering from suicidal thoughts and other mental illnesses. More than 30% LGBTI individuals attempted suicide. The suicide rate of this group is double of that of the average population.1 It is not an exaggeration to find someone around you suffering who needs your help. There is always tension behind helping anyone at this depth. We keep our distance and convince ourselves that their private thoughts aren’t your business and sharing deep thoughts are an intrusion of privacy. The foot is normally a body part that is dirty from walking on the ground so it’s not common someone touches your foot with their hands. Peter finds it embarrassing, but Jesus exactly wants his followers to be involved at this level with whom they serve (John 13:8). Dig up the embarrassing details of life and face them together. Privacy is thrown out the window, but this is how a close relationship is built. Don’t be afraid, this ugliness is how real transformation begins.
BMCC workshop on Emergency Suicide Prevention Skills
Our church invited clinical psychologists to teach a class on suicide prevention. Learn to look for the telltale signs of suicide for those around you. It’s not enough to count on a counselor nor a psychologist to save a life. Many cases of suicide arise from the feeling of extreme loneliness and insurmountable pressure. Their first point of contact is their friends and family, and that means it’s you. When someone cares about the tough times you’re going through, that’s enough to save a life.
Jesus Unrobing: Breaking Role
Jesus unrobed himself to serve his disciples to wash their feet and for that moment he has chosen to cast away all the society’s hierarchy and roles (John 13:4). In the modern context, if we actually want to help someone, we need to cast away our original comfortable roles. Whether you are a lawyer, doctor or any well-respected position in society, we fail to empathize with who we are serving if we keep our professional titles. Come down to the same level with whom you’re helping. This is especially important in the context of suicide prevention. Our different backgrounds create the illusion that a person’s hardship is unimportant. Highlighting how “at least” the world is full of opportunities and happiness. This unhealthy sympathy may seem harmless but it’s far from true empathy. Imagine Jesus performing this as a ritual without bringing his role to a humble human servant, it wouldn’t be genuine.
Real, Genuine Love
At a funeral, I once heard someone say that he noticed 6 months ago the deceased said something peculiar that he could have taken as a signal for a suicidal tendency. We are so busy during the day that we are too busy to listen to anyone crying for help. Do we give space for love to grow in our hearts and minds? Do we even cherish the life of those around us?
Jesus gives us no rule that we must obey; we have free will. We naturally do the bare minimum to satisfy authority especially when it’s outside our comfort zone. Feelings become genuine when they aren’t forced. Simply put, Jesus wants us to help another person, for that person. It is an act of unconditional kindness and love that manifests from within.
With this true heart and genuine love that is how Jesus has weathered the difficult times in life and take in the good and the bad and serve full-heartedly even knowing who will eventually betray him (John 13:10). Times might have changed but the nature of love and hatred hasn’t.
Now it’s your turn to carry the cross, not by threat of fire and brimstone but by genuine love.
Source: Suen, Y.T., Wong, A.W.C, Barrow, A., Wong, M.Y., Mak, W.S., Choi, P.K., Lam, C.M., Lau, T.F. (2016). Study on Legislation against Discrimination on the Grounds of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status.