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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Comiskey

Foot Washing: Whose House?

‘I will pour out on you a spirit of grace and supplication…

We will look upon the One we have pierced and will mourn as one grieves for an only child…

On that day, I’ll open a fountain to cleanse you from sin and impurity;

on that day, I’ll banish the idols from the land…

On that day, I’ll remove both the prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land…

On that day, every prophet will be ashamed of his prophetic vision.

He will say, “I am not a prophet, I am a farmer.”

When asked about the wounds on his body, he will answer:

“These wounds I was given at the house of my friends”’ (Zechariah 12:10-13:6)


‘I am in the Church because, despite everything, I believe that she is at the deepest level not our but precisely “His” Church.’ Joseph Ratzinger

 

The pastor of a small church Annette and I participated in conveyed kindly he didn’t want me to give any more prophetic exhortations during the Sunday service. ‘Appreciate them, but let’s not do that in this context—a little distracting…’

 

I heard him, was offended, and wrestled for a few days about how much I trusted him over and against my ‘leadings.’ Christ-in-me, the hope of glory? Or Jesus in His Church, operating through a variety of members who have authority to clip my wings?


Annette suffered more. A couple pastors slammed her for empowering a close friend--the senior pastor's wife-- to expose her husband's multiple abuses. Annette endured the suffering. This was her church too. For Jesus' sake, she couldn't leave. We stayed and helped rebuild His house.

 

Idolatry can mean many things. I could detail the sensational ravages of devotion to sensual deities or bowing at the altar of death from conception (abortion) to tomb (euthanasia).


Maybe Zechariah’s witness is most helpful. His whole life was about mobilizing his fellows to shake off post-exile blues and rebuild the ruined house of God. The biggest temptation of the Jews? Not sexy Babylonian deities but self-concern. ‘We are beat up and need space to lick our wounds in our houses, not His.’ The ravages of big brother (the Babylonians) disinclined them to think and act together.       

 

Same with us. Our idolatry is a heightened and sensitive individualism in which we are tempted to ditch corporate worship due to our needs, not God’s or other’s.

 

We say dumb stuff like: ‘I love Jesus but refuse His body.’ We seek out disgruntled ex-members who share our disillusion and reinforce why ‘church’ is a bad word. Instead of prayer, we jabber online, and give no time to the gnawing sense that we are losing the ‘holy’, the truth that God dwells with sinners who seek and find Him together.

 

Some keys:

Overcoming self-idolatry. Culturally, we are a people motivated by personal rights who lead out as victims rather than sinners. The wrongs others have done loom larger and louder than conviction over our own wickedness.

 

Please, let’s recognize wounds, systemic injustice, etc. But without first facing our native disorder and defenses, our desperation for Divine Mercy, we fall prey to today’s idolatry: individualism and entitlement.

 

Jesus banishes such idolatry through His claim of love upon us, which becomes ours through repentance and renunciation of radical selfishness.

 

Overcoming self-idolatry means community. We become whole by integrating our gifts and weaknesses into church life. Inner harmony hinges upon membership––taking our places in His house. That means acts of service where what we love to give is valued and makes the community better for all. It also means the freedom to own where we still bleed. We receive healing and give our gifts simultaneously.

 

Overcoming self-idolatry means recognizing authority, people we trust who know more than we do about some things and who help us to realize them.  

 

Overcoming self-idolatry means repenting of making leaders idols. I love and need Pope Francis’ leadership, but I don’t see him as infallible in everything he says and writes. I can exercise good conscience AND respect.

 

Some of us made Bickle an idol. He got away with murder because we assumed he was incapable of it. Repent of acting childishly. Instead of retreating to our own kingdoms of self, we can grow up and get wise.

 

Overcoming self-idolatry also means we act like adults, not children, in respecting authority. We don’t assume leaders’ wholeness because of a title. Humble adults vet leaders by asking good questions like how healthy is the marriage? How free are you from porn or weird pseudo-sexual bonds with adoring congregants? Who really knows you? To whom are you actively accountable? Fair game in the heat of IHOP fires.

 

Every leader has clay feet. Good leaders own theirs and get help to make level paths.  

 

Own the ache that only ‘church’ can satisfy. Without us, the church aches too. Zechariah’s genius lay in mobilizing broken members to mend the temple, knowing that their wounded souls would mend through joining in the rebuilding.  

 

My prayer for us? ‘Build His House, be envisioned by something bigger than our individual lives…strength and dignity will rise as we close ranks.’


Join Andrew on Desert Streaming each week as he dives deeper into his blog. Watch here or listen on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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