In 1715 four young boys at the Halle academy in eastern Germany, including Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, formed a prayer and accountability group which became the “Order of the Mustard Seed.” They made a vow to each other which was stated as follows: “We will be true to Christ, we will be kind to all people; and we will send the gospel to the world.” Every member wore a ring carrying a Greek inscription meaning “None of us lives for himself.” This group of boys brought incredible change to their world. Their vow was revolutionary.
Very early in her life Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, who is better known to us as Mother Teresa, made a powerful vow:
To give God absolutely anything He might ask for and to refuse Him nothing.
To obey without delay.
Attend to “the little practices” or little fidelities to Scripture
To seek to love Christ as he has never been loved.
These Christ followers are a part of a revolution of love rooted in serving others. We are part of this revolutionary movement. As followers of Jesus Christ we challenge our own lethargy and insane selfishness to be a part of a new world order that Christ leads … a revolution of love and service. To really love others is the greatest challenge to the status quo. To love is a challenge to the norms of our world. Normally people are selfish. Normal religion propagates its own interests. Normal is cold and intolerant. Normal is not Jesus!
Jesus launched a revolution against normal. He loved when hated. He started at the bottom and said that is the top. He said the little people are the most important people. He said greatness is defined by serving. He said we get a rich fulfilling life when we give it away. He said we are rich when we live for things besides self-fulfillment and acquisitions. He showed us that the greatest possibilities come to those who believe. He challenged cold lethargic religion with a life poured out for others.
As people who go by the name of “Christian” we revolt against the “normal” in our world. We are part of a true revolution … a revolution of the towel. The towel represents our mission. Jesus washed feet and wiped them with a towel. Jesus took a towel and got down and dirty. We follow in the steps of the Nazarene with a towel!
Christ followers are revolutionary. We reclaim the passion and spirit of those like Zinzendorf and Mother Teresa. We are done with timid religion. We spurn the way of mediocrity. After all, we are influenced by an empty tomb! The fact that Jesus is alive compels us. It’s now a 24-7 lifetime commitment to personal and social discipline to bring our lives into conformity with the perfect life of Jesus Christ. We seek truth relentlessly with other seekers to develop our character, our conscience and our conduct.
We offer our lives as instruments of love and service so that even our enemies may know the love of Christ. We are willing to bear the burden, pay the price and suffer the shame of the cross of Christ. His love compels us to love the whole world. We will go next door to our neighbor and to unknown places around the world to serve the needs of others.
Together, we raise the flag of love, which is a towel … a towel of service. We join a revolution of service to others without desire for recognition or reward. Our hearts find their true home not in a church building but in the community of Jesus! We embrace the heritage of Christians before us who have sacrificed lives and possessions to this high calling. We will serve. We are people of a revolution … the revolution of the towel.
Dr. Barry Carpenter is pastor of Destin United Methodist Church and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org