By: Becky Brown
I recently re-read Everybody Always by Bob Goff. The book is a collection of short stories about his life, the ways he is challenged in his faith, and the way he lives striving to love everybody always. This is his second book, and his first, Love Does, is very similar. I highly recommend reading both of these books. They’re whimsical, inspiring, and a beautiful display of what living the Christian faith can look like. In Everybody Always, Goff challenges his readers and friends to become love. The closer we become to Christ, and the more we radiate Christ, the more we become love. It’s a simple way to explain sanctification. Every decision we make and every encounter we have with anyone – really anyone – should reflect Jesus’ love. Becoming like Jesus means becoming love.
One of the most impactful stories in Everybody Always is from chapter 24 called “Graduation Day.” Goff talks about loving our enemies and how incredibly difficult that is. He shares his involvement with a community in Uganda where there are witch doctors who kidnap children and sell them for $30 so they can be used for child sacrifice rituals. These witch doctors are feared, and are some of the scariest people he’s ever encountered. Over time, he began befriending witch doctors and learned that they are actually very sad people. They feel isolated and ignorant since they’re mostly illiterate. So, he began a school for witch doctors in Uganda. His method for enrollment in the school is bizarre and unexpected. Yet, once he has them gathered in the same space, he does something shocking. He washes their feet.
He says “People who are becoming love don’t just use tough talk; they do difficult things. So after I scare the wits out of the witch doctors, I get on my knees and I wash their feet. When I do, I don’t know who’s more freaked out – them or me. I’m guessing me, because I’m not a toe guy. Here’s the thing: loving people the way Jesus did either changes everything in us or it changes nothing. It can’t just change a couple of things. But it can change a couple of things at a time. If you want to become love, what will it change for you?” (p. 214)
Showing love for people – everybody – means we have to love our enemies. It also means we need to put ourselves in uncomfortable situations to show them love. Jesus washed the disciples’ feet prior to his entrance into Jerusalem. It didn’t make sense, and it was messy. Yet, Jesus wanted his friends to know the depth of his gratitude for their friendship. Jesus wanted his would-be betrayers to know how deeply he loved them. We will be worshipping together, receiving communion, and washing each other’s feet on Maundy Thursday. Foot washing is always awkward and uncomfortable, yet it is a beautifully holy moment. We have the opportunity to nurture our servant heart by washing someone’s feet. We also have the opportunity to become truly vulnerable and allow someone else to wash our feet. These moments knit us closer together as a community of faith, and connect us even more closely to Jesus as we follow him into the darkness that leads to the cross.