In the time I have been fortunate enough to be involved in Celebrate Recovery, I have seen thousands of people find freedom from all kinds of hurts, hang-ups, and habits. I’ve seen people come into recovery for a season, perhaps completing a Step Study and then going elsewhere in the church, and I’ve seen others that refer to themselves as Celebrate Recovery “lifers.” A lifer is someone who knows he or she will be in Celebrate Recovery for the rest of their lives. One type of person isn’t better than the other. If you have been in Celebrate Recovery for any length of time and found some healing from your issues, you have tremendous courage. You have the courage it takes to examine your life and do something about what you find.
A common question I’m asked is, “Johnny, when will I be done with recovery?” I can answer only for myself. I will never be done with recovery. Remember the onion? I’ll keep peeling back layers of my onion and allowing God to work on me and in me to make me look more like Jesus. I have a long way to go. The thing about recovery is at its core, there is a paradox. If we want to keep what we have gained, we have to give it away. We need to start serving others. So there are a couple things at work here. First, recovery can be a lifelong pursuit because we can always grow closer to Jesus, and second, giving back to others, or serving, is an essential component of recovery.
Serving Is Mandatory
Whether you check out Celebrate Recovery for a season or consider yourself a lifer, service is mandatory. To stay on the road to freedom, you have to give your time and talents away to others. One way to know we are in recovery is when we find we are thinking less often about ourselves and instead are serving others more. Serving others is a key to recovery and leads to deeper healing. God has designed us to need each other and has shaped us to serve others.
Once again, Jesus is the example for us. The night before He was to be turned over to the authorities to be crucified, He showed us the way we should serve others. Jesus gathered His disciples and did something to them that they could not believe.
He washed their feet.
This takes a little context. First, feet are disgusting. They are sweaty and smelly. Add to this that the disciples walked everywhere. There were no cars, no buses, no Über. There were only sandals. That means their feet would get dirty. And Jesus offers to wash these smelly, disgusting feet. He dresses like a servant, taking off His outer robe and tying a towel around His waist. He takes out a bowl of water, scrubs His disciples’ feet, and uses the towel around His waist to dry them off. This is definitely a close encounter with Jesus. It was up close and personal.
Then Peter speaks up. He realizes what Jesus is about to do and tells Him not to wash His feet. Have I mentioned how much I love Peter? Here he is, thinking he’s doing the right thing. He thinks he’s being pious by telling Jesus no, and Jesus tells him that unless He washes Peter’s feet, Peter won’t belong to Him. So Peter basically says, “Then give me a bath!” I can picture Jesus patting old Pete on the shoulder and saying, “Calm down, this is an object lesson, just let me wash your feet.” Eventually Jesus washes all of the disciples’ feet, including Peter’s.
Then He asked them,
Do you understand what I have done for you?… You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. — John 13:12-17
Jesus showed us the way to serve others.
Does Jesus mean we are to literally wash each other’s feet? Maybe. But I think the lesson is what’s important here. When Jesus put on the towel and started washing their feet, He was taking on a lowly position. He was fulfilling one of the lowest jobs of the servants. Jesus could have demanded to be served, but He said,
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many. — Mark 10:45
He could have come as a king; instead He entered the world as a baby. He could have come in power and thunder, towering above us. Instead, as Paul writes,
[Jesus], being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross! — Philippians 2:6-8
Jesus showed us, over and over again, how to serve one another.
Excerpted with permission from The Road to Recovery by Johnny Baker, copyright Johnny Baker.
* * *
Are you a lifer? Whether or not you’ve ever gone through Celebrate Recovery, all Jesus followers are learning to be more like Him every day. That means serving! How are you serving in new ways? Come share with us on our blog! We want to hear from you. ~ Devotionals Daily