“Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.” – Saint Teresa of Avila
I find this beautiful quote from Teresa of Avila to be both inspirational and a bit intimidating. With all we are called to navigate in the world today, how do we live out this worthy but often demanding assignment? Perhaps we can begin to understand how to “be” Christ’s hands and feet by considering how Jesus used his hands and feet when he was walking among us. Through the writers of scripture, we have a record of the way Jesus lived out his earthly existence, and these stories offer us clues on how we might continue his work.
Spend Time in Prayer
First, Jesus knew that he had to spend timewith the Fatherin order to know where to go and what to do next. Throughout the Gospels, we find that Jesus often “withdrew to a solitary place” in order to hear from his Heavenly Father.Even my most well-intentioned attempts to do God’s will are useless unless I also regularly withdraw to a solitary place to listen to my Father. Through time in God’s word, sharing my heart in prayer and being still enough to listen, I begin to glimpse the path that God has for me to follow to get involved in what he is doing in my little part of God’s world. Without that time, I find I am often tilting at windmills.
Secondly, Jesus was willing to be interrupted as he went about the work that the Father had given him to do. Most of the accounts of Jesus interacting with people and performing miracles begin with a phrase such as, “as Jesus went on from there.” He was often traveling to another destination when someone approached him in need of healing. While his disciples sometimes tried to discourage or deter these seekers, Jesus always had time for the people who crossed his path.
Jesus was all about relationships. In every instance, he made the choice tostop and offer healingand care to the persons involved.Because he was notoverly tied to his agenda of the moment, Jesus could attend to the higher purposes for which he was sent.In our own lives, we similarly have thechoice to view the unexpected, the unplanned and theinconvenient interruptions we encounter asprecious opportunities for connection and healing, divine appointments to realize our own role in bringinglove to a hurting world.
Get Our Hands Dirty
Third, Jesus was willing to get his hands dirty. One of my favorite stories about Jesus is the time he chose to wash the feet of his disciples in order to teach them about being a servant.In their culture, washing dirty feet was the lowliest of jobs, yet Jesus got on his knees and tenderly washed and dried the dust-covered feet of those he loved most and then entreated them to do the same in his name. In fact, Jesus said clearly in John 13:15, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”
As I seek to find the “important” work that I can do in God’s kingdom, I sometimes overlook the opportunities for smaller acts of serviceacts that become holy when done from a place of love, grace and gratitude. Life is messy. People are complicated. Getting our hands dirty, literally or figuratively, requires a willingness to get involved in the middle of the mess and complications of being human and loving well. In prayer or in service, when I am on my knees, I am closest to Jesus.
Love the Least of These
Finally, if we are to truly become Jesus’ hands and feet, we must share his love for “the least of these.” Jesus was revolutionary in his approach to the downtrodden and forgotten in his society. He touched lepers, he welcomed women and children, he dined with criminals, he championed the poor and he defended the powerless. Jesus spent his time on earth with the hated and the outcasts and claimed that he had come to “preach good news to the poor.” If I want to be the hands and feet of Jesus, I have to open my eyes to the suffering in the world and allow my heart to be broken by those things that break the heart of the Father. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and a willingness to pay attention, we too can find ways and places where we can contribute to fixing what is broken in our world.
Bottom line: we each can make a difference, and it matters that we try. God is at work in the world, and we can be part of it. We can be the hands and feet of Jesus!
This post was originally published on Kelly’s blog, “Grace Notes.”