I am afraid.
I’m not, pardon the pun, afraid to admit it.
There is a lot of hatred out there.
News. Internet. Blogs. Facebook. Instagram.
A lot of hate and anger.
Most of that hate and anger is directed at Christians. We are the new pariah; the new villain. Christianity is intolerant, hateful, judgmental, phobic. Think of a vile adjective and it has been hurled at Christians.
What is our response? Hunker down. Bunker down. Retreat into our communities of like minded people.
Take a look at one of those inwardly focused communities. There was a class of very religious men. Devout. Faithful to the rules. Pure and clean and undefiled. These men had very little love, mercy, or compassion. In their eyes, if you were suffering it was a punishment. Maybe you were at fault. Maybe your parents. Someone, somewhere was to blame for your misery.
This class of religious leaders were feared by the people over which they presided. They called anyone who deviated from their teachings as hypocrites. When they saw someone suffering, they passed on by. After all, the sufferer deserve what they got!
Into this morass of religious perversion a lone man appeared. He taught something very radical.
Love your enemy.
Forgive seven times seventy.
Go the extra mile.
Forgive those who curse you.
Don’t repay evil with evil.
Can we look at that one sentence again!
Don’t repay evil with evil! This idea rules out revenge, grudges, payback, karma, retribution. He was telling us that if we couldn’t say something kind, keep our mouths shut!
This man was well versed in the teachings and writings of the religious leaders that provided the foundation for his “religion”. But, did he show disdain for the outcast; the sick; those being “punished” as they did? No. He associated with them. He touched them. He sat and ate with them. He healed them. He forgave them.
His words were a beautiful melody of love, compassion, mercy, acceptance, respect, inclusion to any who would hear and abide in his teachings.
His only harsh words, his only very angry words came for those religious leaders. Remember what we said about them? The ones who are intolerant, hateful, judgmental, phobic. The ones who hunkered down and bunkered down and excluded those who were not “righteous” enough to walk with them.
Am I talking about Christians today?
I am talking about the Sadducees and Pharisees and teachers of the Law in first century Palestine. These men built walls of exclusion around God. They placed God in a box called the Holy of Holies and only the most devout, the most righteous could approach the interior of that box.
The teacher, of course, was Jesus of Nazareth. An itinerant carpenter and preacher who spent three years changing the course of humanity. His commandments?
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind. This means to love God with your emotional self, your spiritual self, your physical self, and your mind.
The second commandment was pretty simple. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. He refined that commandment to his disciples later:
Love one another as I have loved you. They will know you are my disciples by your love.
I don’t hear anyone in culture today describing a Christian as someone filled with love. Why is that?
We have abandoned our calling.
I am reading a book, The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity by Matthew Kelly and he talks about “Holy Moments”. In his book, which every Christian should read, he talks about simple moments when we give in to the urgings of the Holy Spirit to stop and do something positive for a person who is in need. A total stranger!
The early Christians followed the simple teachings of Christ and changed the world one person at a time simply by being kind; by showing compassion; by loving.
Isn’t it time for Christians to be known for what we should be known for not what we are against? Isn’t it time for us to be known by our unconditional love? The world sees the love of Christ in us sporadically when a natural disaster strikes or a horrific act of evil ends the lives of many. This big moments are easy for a Christian to be involved in. The don’t necessarily require us to interact with that “hateful” person we work with or who sits at the dinner table with us or who sleeps in the bed with us at night.
The world sees bits and pieces of that kind of love when a story of a “random act of kindness” manages to break its way through all of the negative news out there. When these stories surface, the world marvels! Culture recoils and sighs. There is good in this world after all. There is hope, a commodity that is sadly lacking in today’s agnostic, atheistic culture.
But, culture is reluctant attribute these acts of kindness by Christians to the real source — a Christian showing the love of Christ in a selfless act of compassion and giving.
Maybe it’s time we Christians redefined ourselves. Maybe it’s time to put the hate and the anger aside in spite of our outrage and feelings about being the scape goat. Maybe it’s time for us to show love and compassion and kindness.
You see there are no such things as “Random Acts of Kindness”. Rather, they are “Ordained Acts of Kindness”. There are no coincidences, only holy appointments. Our failing comes when we have our eyes and our attention hunkered down to avoid all the negativity and we are focused on the many “screens” that cry out for our attention and we miss the holy appointment right before us.
So embrace O.A.K., Ordained Acts of Kindness. Look for and partake of Ordained Acts of Kindness. They are all around us all day long. It may be something as simple as ignoring that hateful remark and instead of replying with anger, ask the person if they have something you can help them with; a prayer; a thought; a good deed. I guarantee that will at least puzzle them. And, perhaps, they will wonder WHY you are acting in a manner contrary to what they expected! They might even ask you WHY you are being kind.
And here is the important thing to understand.
Jesus’ Ordained Acts of Kindness led to his crucifixion because he stood up to the religious leaders of his day. An O.A.K. will cost us something. It will hurt. We may think it will make us look weak. We may think it will make others take advantage of us. That shouldn’t matter.
Here is the main point: Others MUST see the love of Christ in us. That means we have to SHOW it!
It will be hard. It will be challenging. It will cost us something. It cost God His Son. It cost this world the most compassionate, caring, loving, intelligent Man who ever lived. But, that Man is NOT gone. His detractors put him in a box just like they did God. But, Jesus did not stay in his box!
He threw open the lid to that box and walked out of His tomb on the third day. He conquered the thing we all fear most — death. And in that mysterious act, Jesus bridged the gap between fallen man and holy God.
Forget about all the hatred and rancor and fury that surrounds us like a tornado. Don’t let it make you and I turn inward. Jesus was the ultimate extravert. He poured out his love and compassion without hesitation.
It is time for us to the do the same. Meet those vile adjectives with a few soft, caring words of compassion and love. Look for an Ordained Act of Kindness this week, today, right now! Use the love of Christ that we are commanded to show the world to once again change the world one person at a time.
Posted on April 24, 2019, in Steel Chronicles and tagged bigotry, compassion, Fear, forgiveness, hatred, love one another, Mercy, Random acts of kindess, resurrection, Turn the other cheek. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.