I read an Advent devotional yesterday that told a story of kindness...
It might be an old idea, a worn out concept, but I felt we should look for an act of kindness that we can offer to someone today...this means that we consciously look for an opportunity to be kind...today. Put it on the "to do" list.
Why? A couple of reasons come to mind:
1. Christians are sometimes experienced as less than kind by folks in the world. The Bible has a lot to say about behavior, and holiness, and what we should and shouldn't do...and sometimes, how we are in the world is more reflective of that "should and shouldn't" list, rather than the love that Jesus modeled for us.
Jesus said, "Love one another, as I have loved you."
What is love? What does it look like in everyday life? There is a famous passage in Paul's first letter to the church at Corinth that provides a definition of love...it is very popular at weddings, but it can also help us with our kindness project today:
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, and it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices when truth wins out. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perserveres. Love never fails."
Living up to such a high standard could feel overwhelming...unless...we made a decision to simply look for one opportunity to be kind today...one opportunity to be loving. Tomorrow will take care of itself, but just for today...keep these words of love right in front of your eyes, and look for just one opening for kindness.
2. There's a second reason for today's project...if we, as Christians, desire to see other people come to know the love of God, we'll need to start making it known in the way we live our lives. The scripture says that it's the kindness of God that leads us to repentance...to me, this says that we are, all of us, drawn toward God because of his love and kindness, and not because of some fear of punishment, or to avoid his anger.
Kindness is hard to resist, when offered in a spirit of authentic love.
Today's gospel reading talks about John the Baptist, and how he was sent to prepare the way for Jesus' coming. The passage talks about how John will "make straight paths for him", and another translation says that he will "make the crooked ways smooth..." The picture that came to mind was a person working to clear a jungle path so that someone else could get through...
Perhaps we can help prepare the way for folks who haven't met Jesus...who haven't yet experienced God's love in this way...our kindness can clear the path, so that the love and kindness of God can get through to the people we meet today.