Summary: When God’s people fail to practice kindness, they fail to be God’s people. Unkindness is as unChristlike as any doctrinal error. Love is kind.
Kindness September 9, 2001
Kindness shows respect for the dignity of man as one who is created in God’s image. It is a way of showing reverence to God himself. Prov 12:10 A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.
When I was a little boy I lived in a neighborhood full of boys. The Wilkerson boys up the street from me used to catch frogs and nail them to trees for entertainment. It made me sick. I told my mom and she said that this was an act of cruelty that showed that these boys didn’t respect what God had made. They would throw rocks at stray dogs and do all sorts of mean things. It’s hard to find anything more beautiful than kindness. And hard to find anything more ugly than cruelty.
It is amazing how cruel and unkind people can be, not just to animals but especially to other people. Jenny and I were on the way home from WY and our last leg of the flight home was from Phoenix to Atlanta. The plane left there at 10:35 PM and arrived in Atlanta at 5:10 AM. It’s called a red eye flight. We boarded the plane and Steve, a 25 year old strong looking man who had been drinking sat next to me. He said his friends had taken him out on the town and suggested that he could show me some really wild places too. I told him I had never had a drink in my life. He was shocked. Are you religious or something? He asked. The door was open so I walked in. God allowed me the opportunity to tell Steve about my faith in Jesus and the Bible as his word. Steve told me he didn’t believe in God. He said you’ve got to look out for number one, because no one else is going to. He described his relationships with his friends and his girlfriends and some of his enemies and how many fights he had been in and how good it felt. He said, when you fight you feel really alive! I said, I know what you mean, then I told him I fought all the time. I fight temptation and sin, I fight to keep my family close to God, I fight to help my Christian family here to walk with God. I said, Yeah, it feels really alive to fight. But it feels better to fight the good fight for God instead of the squabbles of the devil. I told him about Jesus’ fight to save him. It was a fight with his own flesh when he prayed to the Father to let the cup of sin and sorrow pass. Jesus fought the temptation to call 10,000 angels who would end his suffering and yet lose humanity to sin. Jesus fought the pain of mocking and scourging and spitting. He fought the shame of nakedness and cruelty and insults. He fought the agony of the nails and the weight of our sins and worst of all the punishment for all those sins as if he had committed them himself when in truth, he never once, ever did anything wrong. Steve listened. Then he said, “I don’t believe it.” And I thought that’s why you are who you are and do what you do. The farther one is from God the less they understand what it means to be truly human and how to truly love others. But let me get back to my subject.
God’s word says, “Love is kind…” 1 Cor. 13:4
The Mormons have a commercial out about kindness. They show a man standing in the rain and someone who is driving by reaches out and hands him an umbrella. I forget the line that follows, but the point is clear. Being kind and blessing others is a beautiful thing. It shines with a light that attracts us.
As a religious body the Mormons are growing. They attract people, not so much by their theology, which is so weird that some of their own people are embarrassed by it. That’s why they never advertise it. No, they attract people by their focus on family devotion and kindness. They somehow have connected these things with their commitment to being Mormon. Satan is a good counterfeiter.
What about us? What are we as the Churches of Christ known for? How do we attempt to attract people to us? Classically, we in the churches of Christ have tried to attract people by an idea… that idea is that everyone needs to be in the church that you read about in the New Testament. In presenting this idea some have gone to war with denominationalism and made it their chief mission to correct certain matters of teaching or practice or acts of worship that do not line up with the instructions found in the New Testament and these same people condemn everyone who falls short. The strange thing is that in attempting to be the New Testament church many have acted in very un-New Testament like ways.