Just Like Jesus Loving the People You Are Stuck With
Max opens this chapter with the story of receiving his first pet, Liz, a Chinese pug. His parents made it plain that Liz was his responsibility. After a few days, he realized he was stuck with Liz. Max says: “Liz went from an option to an obligation, from a pet to a chore, from someone to play with to someone to care for.”
Max continues: “Chances are you know the claustrophobia that comes with commitment. Only instead of being reminded she’s your dog, it’s your husband, wife, child, parent, employee, boss or roommate or any other relationship that requires loyalty for survival .”
If you think about that first child, you are so excited that you are about to have that precious little bundle to love. Then, with dirty diapers, middle of the night crying and feedings the reality of the responsibility hits home. During the years I have had several young people who worked with me experience their first baby. Kay and I could not afford disposable diapers, so I could not resist telling them about cloth diapers and how you emptied them and the odor that comes from the diaper pail. Some of them got green around the gills. Only those who are older can appreciate this experience. Young folks be thankful for disposable diapers. After all the sleepless nights, dirty diapers, being asked “why” nine million times they turn into teenagers. We love them anyway!!
Max invented a word to go along with the relationship that requires loyalty, “stuckitits”. “Stuck meaning trapped. Itits being the six letters you tag on to any word you want to sound impressive.” Max says “there is only three ways to cope with stuckitits: flee, fight or forgive. My manual has no model for how forgiveness occurs, but the Bible does.”
Max goes on to talk about Jesus knowing the feeling of being stuck with someone. Jesus was around his apostles for three years day in and day out. “Think about it. He could hear their unspoken thoughts. He knew their private doubts. Not only that, he knew their future doubts. What if you knew every mistake you loved ones had ever made and every mistake they would ever make? What if you knew every thought, they would have about you, every irritation, every dislike, every betrayal?”
Max describes the last event that Christ had with his apostles all together. It was the upper room where Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper. Before they took the bread and the wine, Jesus washed the feet of the apostles, an act usually reserved for the lowest of servants. Max writes: “You can be sure Jesus knows the future of these feet he is washing. These twenty- four feet will not spend the next day following their master, defending his cause. These feet will dash for cover at the flash of a Roman sword. Only one pair of feet won’t abandon him in the garden. One disciple won’t desert him at Gethsemane---Judas won’t make it that far! He will abandon Jesus that very night at the table.” Think about Peter who cursed and denied him, apostles arguing about who among them was the best and Thomas who questioned his resurrection.
Max goes on to say that he looked for a Bible translation that reads that Jesus washed all the feet except for Judas’. He further talks about what a passionate moment when Jesus lifts Judas’, his betrayer, feet and washes them. “Remarkable. He forgave their sin before they even committed it. He offered mercy before they even sought it.”
Max continues: “Oh I could never do that you object. The hurt is so deep. The wounds are so numerous. Just seeing the person causes me to cringe. Perhaps that is your problem. Perhaps you are seeing the wrong person or at least too much of the wrong person. Remember, the secret of being just like Jesus is fixing our eyes on him. Try shifting your glance away from the one who hurt you and setting your eyes on the one who has saved you.”
“Our savior kneels down and gazes upon the darkest acts of our lives. But rather than recoil in horror, he reaches out in kindness and says, ‘I can clean that if you want.’ And from the basin of his grace, he scoops a palm full of mercy and washes our sin away.”
“Because he lives in us, you and I can do the same. Because he has forgiven us, we can forgive others. Because he has a forgiving heart, we can have a forgiving heart. We have a heart like his.”
“Jesus washes our feet for two reasons. The first is to give us mercy; the second is to give a message, and that message is simply this: Jesus offers us unconditional grace; we are to offer unconditional grace.” This may be one of the more difficult attitudes for us to adopt in our lives.
Max says we often rebel at the idea of giving unconditional grace. I did not do anything wrong!! He/she is the guilty party! Max’s answer: “Of all the men in that room, only one was worthy of having his feet washed. And he was the one who washed their feet. The one worthy of being served, served others. The one who is innocent is the one who makes the gesture.” Max believes that if the innocent party “washes the feet” of the guilty party then both parties wind up on their knees. Max follows with an absolute truth:
“Please understand. Relationships don’t thrive because the guilty are punished but because the innocent are merciful!”
All too often we are not happy until the other person is appropriately punished and then and only then I might forgive. Is there ever a justification, good reason or just an excuse for not loving and forgiving? In our minds the answer is “yes” but in the mind of God and Christ the answer is “no”. Match the sins you’ve committed against God with the sins committed against you. Which ones are more grievous?
Do I really want to be Just Like Jesus or just talk a good game? Christ does not say it will be as easy for us as it is for him but that’s no excuse. Let’s face it, if we refuse to forgive then we’re not trying to be like Jesus! Pray, pray and pray about it. Don’t take the attitude that God will just have to live with it!
Max concludes this chapter: “Certain conflicts can be resolved only with a basin of water. Are any relationships in your world thirsty for mercy? Are there any sitting around your table who need to be assured of your grace? Jesus made sure his disciples had no reason to doubt his love. Why don’t you do the same?”
Max’s Study Guide:
Do you feel you have stuckititus with someone right now? Do you want to flee, fight or forgive? Do you think anyone feels the same about you?
Read Colossians 3:12-17 and Ephesians 4:32 and 5:1-2 These verses outline Max’s thoughts in this chapter.
How grimy did God get when he reached down to clean you up? How grimy are you willing to get in order to be an imitator of God?
Be completely honest with yourself as you evaluate Max’s writings.
Can you have Biblical love for someone and detest their personality?
God bless us in our efforts to forgive and to love!