Wash hands first, then wash feet.
I saw this quote on Instagram several days ago. I can’t find the source now to credit the person who wrote it, but those simple words helped alter how I am thinking about Coronavirus and how it is impacting the world.
Historically, Christians have been at the forefront of helping in the face of calamity. I don’t want that heritage to stop with my generation. Maybe this is our opportunity to carry on the legacy left to us.
Across the internet, I see people clashing. Some say the panic over the virus is uncalled for. Others believe it’s entirely legitimate. Everyone is taking sides and becoming frustrated with those who disagree.
Can we unite over washing feet?
What is Washing Feet?
After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. (John 13:5)
This act of Jesus has deep, beautiful implications regarding the eternal impact of redemption (the washing of the whole body) and the everyday value of confession and cleansing (the washing of the feet), but on a more superficial level, we can see Jesus being a servant. He ties a towel around His waist and washes his disciples dirty feet.
His example has caused feet washing to become a symbol of servant leadership.
How Does Feet Washing Relate to Coronavirus
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. (Matthew 3:36-38)
Doesn’t this picture of sheep without a shepherd remind you of the situation we see in the world right now?
People are scared and scattered. Some are fainting from illness. More are fainting under the burden of stress. They are flocking to the media for guidance and to the supermarkets for security, and neither are providing what people need.
We have direct access to the Good Shepherd. We shouldn’t be joining the multitudes who are like sheep with no shepherds. Instead, we have the opportunity to invite people to enjoy the guidance and security we have.
People don’t really need (or want) 100 rolls of toilet paper.
They need peace.
People don’t really need (or want) a dozen bottles of hand sanitizer.
They’re seeking hope.
People don’t really need (or want) a years supply of cleaning products.
They want safety.
So what does that have to do with feet washing?
As servants of the Great Shepherd, we can follow His example and be servant leaders in this time of unrest. We are not the Shepherd. But we can be His laborers.
We can wash feet by being a voice of reassurance instead of adding to the panic or condemning the panicked.
We can wash feet by demonstrating generosity in the middle of hoarding.
We can wash feet by walking against the tide of self-preservation to offer help to those who need it.
We can wash feet by offering the good news of the gospel in contrast to the near-apocalyptic message of the media.
How to Wash Feet In the Context of Coronavirus
I’ve been seeing a lot of suggestions for how to serve right now, so here are a few of my favorites (and maybe a few ideas of my own).
- Be kind. Smile at the people in the grocery store. Use a friendly tone when discussing the news. Help people see that not everything and everyone is circling the whirlpool of panic and self-preservation.
- Communicate. Lend a listening ear to someone who needs to express their fear. Check in on the elderly neighbor or the shut-in from church. Text the family with two working parents whose kids are home from school. Let people know you are thinking of them and praying for them.
- Share. Do you have extra toilet paper? Extra hand sanitizer? Never before has Christian generosity been so simple to demonstrate. If you have extra, offer it. And with it offer prayer and hope.
- Offer Help:
- Are you in a low-risk category for Coronavirus fatality? Reach out to people in high-risk brackets and see if they need help. Maybe they need groceries or medications and are worried about going to the grocery store or pharmacy. Offer to make those runs for them. You could even go the extra mile to give them peace of mind by sanitizing the items before handing them over.
- Are you a high school or college student with some time to spare. Offer to provide childcare for parents who can’t afford to take time off with their kids home from school.
- Do you come from a homeschooling family? See if you can provide your expertise to parents who have never done school at home before.
- Pray. The President declared today as national day of prayer for the Coronvirus situation. This is a tremendous opportunity to pray boldly and openly. Ask friends and neighbors if they have specific concerns you can pray over. Start a prayer chain. Pray over the phone with people who are self quarantining.
- Support. While some businesses are booming from the panic-induced buying frenzy, many others are frustrating. On Friday, I met friends at Chick-fil-A for our weekly Bible study, and it was the quietest I’ve ever seen the place during dinner time. Even if you’re worried about catching or spreading germs, most businesses are offering creative options to keep customers safe and comfortable. Be mindful of small businesses, consider buying gift cards (to use later or pre-shop for gifts), or share about them online.
These are just a few ideas. Get creative. Have fun. Serving God by sharing practical help and His Good News with the people He loves is a joy and a privilege.
Looking for opportunities to serve has helped me step away from feelings of frustration and being overwhelmed. Maybe it can do the same for you.
How is Coronavirus impacting you and those around you? How can you use this interruption to everyday life to find opportunities to wash feet?