Washing Osama’s Feet

November 4, 2007

art / politics / theology

From Greg Boyd:

This is the kind of power the omnipotent God of the universe uses against his enemies. And this is the kind of power we’re to use against our ‘enemies.’ It’s the power of Calvary-like love.

I’d love to get a copy of the poster he’s blogging about.


Interestingly, but unsurprisingly, there are several blog posts floating around that are incredibly critical of the Jesus that this poster is presenting. In light of this, I want to take a look at what is being said by the poster. At face value, we have Jesus washing the feet of a series of world leaders, one of whom is Osama Bin Laden.

Theologically, the footwashing is an incredibly significant passage. In it, Jesus does the duty of a slave, and washes the dirty feet of several people who in various ways will abandon him in the coming hours and days, and tells them to do likewise. Service in love. Service without regard to what is going to be returned. Fair enough. Why not serve someone who, whatever one’s political beliefs about Bin Laden may be, is certainly not a servant of Jesus?

But, fine. It’s not specific enough. How about this?

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

There is a lot of debate about the implications of this passage. Many believe that it has nothing to say to the actions of a nation-state with regard to its enemies, but only speaks to an individual. Many believe it does, and that all followers of Jesus should promote pacificism. I don’t want to get into that discussion at the moment. Let’s say this passage only speaks to an individual. Fine. A follower of Jesus should love her enemies. He should do good to them.

According to most mainstream media outlets, there are few greater enemies to the American people than Bin Laden. If we look at this passage from a purely individualistic perspective, we at least are told to love people like him. To do good for them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Because God is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.