Archive for the ‘Kingdom’ Category

Back to Kindness: Taking the Heat

Friday, March 16th, 2007

“Being nice” is a good thing; it contributes to a civil society, but kindness is much more than the absence of unpleasant, rude, or hurtful behavior (though eliminating boorishness is a good thing). But kindness sometimes means taking the heat.

Close your eyes. Relax. Picture yourself in the middle of a huge, black asphalt-covered parking lot. It’s mid-August, about four in the afternoon, 97 degrees Fahrenheit. Feel the wicked-hot sun. No breeze. Mostly empty lot, and your car appears to be miles away, at the edge of the asphalt, barely visible through the shimmering waves of heat. Now start walking.

Feel the punishing rays. Wilt in the scorching heat. Almost unbearable, huh?

Now look at the strip of land adjoining the lot–a grassy ribbon untouched by the bulldozers where a large leafy maple tree spreads its branches. Walk over to the welcome shade. Feel relief from the blazing sun. Rest for a moment against the broad trunk. Let the tree take the heat.

Sometimes kindness means that I become a tree, interposing myself between a weak soul and the white heat of oppression. Or a blanket wrapping myself around a neighbor whose heart is chilled by evil. Or a barrier, stepping in to shield another soul from the fury of a tormentor. Kindness is not passive “niceness;” kindness is active Love.

In this ServantBlog post, Andy White describes kindness that can change the world:

Kindness encapsulates every single fruit of the spirit, and when we serve another in Kindness we become a vessel through which the fruits flow. We bring hope to the hopeless, faith to the faithless and love to the unloved. We start to challenge structures, confound stereotypes and become agents of change. We begin to introduce a sense of justice in a life trapped by injustice.

We don’t need to be ˜nice” to serve: we need to be focused on Kindness and bent on Justice. Want to change the world? Let’s go to war for the disenfranchised, the trampled upon, the forgotten; let’s confront the weasels. And let’s allow our weapon to be Kindness, our strategy to be unconditional serving, and our victory to be Justice.

Jesus hasn’t called me to be nice; He calls me to follow Him. His mission (and mine) is  not to commit “random kindness and acts of senseless beauty,” but to ... preach the gospel to the poor … to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised (Luke 4:18).

Active kindness motivated by love is THE rule of engagement for Christian mission. The $64,000 question is this: How does that play out in my life?

Waiting for Inspiration

Thursday, March 8th, 2007

Today, while waiting and praying for inspiration, the blind hog uncovered two acorns in the blogosphere:

  • The first was in a daily devotional taken from Oswald Chambers’ work My Utmost for His Highest. (I’m paraphrasing it here to emphasize the personal nature of the observation):

    When I really see myself as the Lord sees me, it is not the terribly offensive sins of the flesh that shock me, but the ingratitude and pride of my own heart in resisting the love of Christ. When I see my stubbornness in the light of the Lord, then conviction hits home for me. But when I surrender all that I have and all that I am to Him, God equips me to do all that He requires of me.
    To become one with Jesus Christ, I must be willing not only to give up sin, but also to surrender my whole way of looking at things and be willing to let go … so I can reach for something else.

    I must be willing to let go of my goodness, my capabilities, my efforts to do better — all of which are wrapped up in my pretense and my self-deception. When I obey and give up my junk — back-breaking, heart-wearying, soul-destroying junk — then I can pick up the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).

  • The second was Melissa Lathen’s recent blog that ended with these words: “Christian obedience is inspiration.” Oh. Inspiration is not a bolt from the blue, nor an isolated epiphany. Inspiration flows from the Spirit of God, who inhabits my totally surrendered heart. Surrender is the end result of obedience to God’s will. God is the source; my obedience is the key to my access.

So real inspiration boils down to this: Am I willing to give up my inclinations, my preferences, my idiosyncrasies to follow Jesus who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2)?

My choice: I can make the best deal in this world or the next by giving up painful junk, junk that I can’t keep anyway, to live here and now under the Lordship of Christ, as part of the kingdom of God. Or I can mutter, “No way,” hold on to my preferences, and keep rooting around in the muck of this world’s kingdom. Which will it be: deal? or no deal?