"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Love and Unkindness on the Road Home

Unkindness and love are mutually exclusive. They have nothing to do with one another, and are polar opposites. They just do not mix. Yet, how many times do we say we love God, and curse man, who is made in God's image? Beloved, this should not be so.

Unkindness creeps in like weeds among wheat. Springing up among the tender shoots, its motives often indistinguishable from those that will eventually bear nourishing grain. However, the fruit of unkindness is more unkindness, along with discouragement, bitterness, and resentment. Because of unkindness many have turned away from the fellowship of believers. Kindly forgive the mixed metaphor, but many lambs have gone astray because other spoiled sheep wanted their way over this triviality or that. The Shepherd is not pleased by such things, but calls us to follow his example of servant leadership instead:

"If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care--then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim any special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless life..." Philippians 2

The pathway to kindness is not found in human effort. Those who have tried that path have admitted in their latter days that it really was about the attention they gleaned for their self denial. So it really was about them in the end. What a horrifying discovery for a pilgrim who set out to deny self!

The pathway to kindness is to find the heart of the Father beating in our chests. He has promised to replace our hearts made of stone, and to give us new hearts made of flesh, and to write his statutes upon those hearts (Eze. 11:19). He gives us the desires of our hearts; he changes the things we desire so that we desire the things that he desires. His desires are for the good of people. Kindess must follow. Selfishness cannot abide in the same heart for long.

So the pathway, I believe, is less about a set of spiritual disciplines (though these may be helpful for some) and more about a relationship with the Father, the Shepherd, the Vine...our source of power and wisdom and love on the road home to intimacy with God and others.

"Love is ...kind." 1 Corinthians 13:4

"But the fruit of the Spirit is...kindness." Galatians 5:22

"He who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble." 1 John 1:9,10

No comments:

Post a Comment