When did you last wash your brother's feet? In Biblical days you wouldn't have been complaining that the Council hasn't gritted the roads or put enough salt down, you would have been more likely to complain about the mule droppings, excrement, urine, vomit, mud and other ordure that contaminated them. If you were a trainee slave you would be given the task of washing the feet of the guests, who were not well-booted against the muck, but used to walk about with open sandals (if they were not bare-footed).
You certainly would not have expected your host to take off his outer garments, wrap a towel around his waist and take a bowl of soapy water and wash your feet. Yet that is just what Jesus did at the Last Supper. It may have looked like humility then, but when you consider that this was the Maker of the Mountains, the Overseer of the Oceans, the Creator Himself; how much more does his humility seem?
Earlier in 1 Peter we had this command: "To this you were called because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps."
Being submissive is one of the lessons that we have to learn, and I more than most. My last intemperate post, for example, shows that I still have a long way to go. But living in constant rebellion, being against most things, being a critic, part of his infernal majesty's opposition, can be a wearing and destructive lifestyle. Listen to what Peter has to say about it:
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."
Do you remember the song from "White Christmas" sung by Rosmary Clooney, "Sisters, there were never such devoted sisters"? It contained the line, "Lord help the mister who comes between me and my sister." This is how we must 'love as brothers'. It's not, 'my country right or wrong' but our love for other Christians must take precedence over other loves - love of country, love of local football team, even love on non-Christian members of our own family.
We have to be both sympathetic and compassionate. Although both these words come from the same root, they have slightly different meanings. Sympathy implies sharing in the sufferings, weeping with those who weep. Compassion is more that gut-wrenching ache when you see a brother suffering. The difference is not great and we are to do both. When we see our brother suffering we suffer with him and have pity on him - both should be a spur to action. Remember the Good Samaritan! Don't walk by on the other side.
Finally, be in harmony and show humility. There are many things to fall out about in churches - it is usually the flowers or the music. But prefer you brother's view to your own. Those who are truly humble don't fall out with anybody.
It is easy enough to be nice to like minded people. Here comes the difficult part. "Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing".
Revenge is forbidden to Christians. Here's a heath tip. Giving up revenge does wonders for your blood pressure. Has someone cut you up at a roundabout? Don't honk your horn and make rude gestures. Just wish him a happy accident at his next encounter and let it pass. I remember remonstrating with a pedestrian who had just jumped out in front of me, nearly getting himself killed. He was high on drugs and was in no mood to listen. he just punched me on the nose and walked off.
This life is terribly unfair and if you spend your time chuntering after justice, you will find yourself in an early grave. Far better to leave vengeance to the Lord and regard this life as training for heaven. Develop that contrite and humble spirit. Blessed are the peacemakers, said Jesus, for they will be called the sons of God.
I have been challenged over my assertion that God will not listen to the prayers of husbands who treat their wives badly, but here it is again. 'The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.'
I know that if once you are saved, you are always saved, and I know that our righteousness is as filthy rags and once we have been covered with the righteousness of Christ we can't improve on it, but once we have been converted, the Holy Spirit gets to work on us to train us in following the example of Christ. If we rebel and sin the more so that grace may more abound, then the Lord is telling us here that he won't listen to our prayers.
We were called so that we might inherit a blessing. What were we called to? Repentance and faith. Repentance means a change in our thinking. We no longer put ourselves first. It is not merely an assent to a particular doctrine, but a change in our way of life. We live by faith - content that the Lord is in control, ready to leave the consequences to him and to spend our lives as imitators of Christ.