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In John 13 we find a beautiful story of how the Creator of the world humbled Himself in front of the people He had created, and that too sinful, imperfect people! Jesus knew who He was from eternity past and His relationship with the Father, and He knew that His identity was not dependent on what people thought about Him. He knew He would not lose His self-image even if people despised Him, misunderstood Him, showed Him disrespect, did not value Him for who He was, thought He was just like them, etc. He knew He did not have to cling on to any prestige (Php.2:6), or worry about denting His reputation. So He took some water and washed the feet of His disciples. The King of Kings took on the role of a menial servant right there because this was a model He wanted to teach them.
Now, consider ourselves. Do we hold on to our prestige, show off our position and get others to serve us to show them who is greater? Are we touchy on the subject of authority and submission and do we make a point of keeping everyone in their 'rightful' places?
That is because we are insecure about ourselves. We don't value ourselves as God sees us, and we are hyper-sensitive towards people's opinions. We like everyone to respect us and not know who we really are. We are unwilling to recognise our failures or faults because we fear our image will crash. We defend ourselves by justifying our mistakes, passing the blame to others, putting on a victim's role, etc. If we are leaders we want others to recognise us as such, and we cannot even tolerate a difference of opinion with us. Any disagreement with us is treated as rebellion!
In theory we acknowledge we are sinners saved by grace. We admit, in a general sort of way, that we are imperfect. But in practice, we are very touchy when our mistakes are pointed out. We may preach that we are all brothers and sisters, but in practice we get offended if someone doesn't address us as 'pastor'. We may even proclaim passionately how we ought to be servant leaders but actually we find it difficult to serve and we would rather be treated as leaders.
One reason for all this could be our basic insecurity about who we are in relationship to God. It hasn't gone deep enough into our mind that God has actually wiped away our sins with the blood of Jesus and we stand before Him clothed in His righteousness. We haven't accepted the fact fully that we will continue to be imperfect in this life but that it doesn't change our status as children of God. We haven't actually accepted our imperfection to the extent of being able to bear with that in others.
The more we come to accept the reality concerning our relationship with God, the better we will be able to serve others without any sense of being benefactors or superior. Then we will not be worried about what people think about us, knowing that they cannot understand us fully anyway and that what they think cannot change our status in the eyes of God.