AUGUST 2012 - RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS: PAY IT FORWARD

We live in a world that is messed up in a lot of ways.  Of course, a Christian worldview recognizes this is a fallen world.  Sin and evil take their toll on all of us.  There is often a jaded view of how to function as a person walks through the routine of a life chosen.  Often, the result is a callous indifference toward others as the perception grows that “I have to do whatever I have to do to make it!”  It is a survival mentality. 

That way of thinking and feeling doesn’t leave room for making way for others who pass through a person’s life.  In fact, the attitude is like this, “Get out of my way.  I won’t let anyone keep me from doing what I have to do.”  People who take that approach are always at odds with the world around them.  They perceive themselves as victims and everyone around them is trying to make life more difficult. 

Satan’s evil drives people to that point.  It hardens the crust of the heart.  Many don’t like how that happens to them, but they seem unable to break free from the spell of “taking care of me first.”  The focus of life for them is internalized; focused on self. 

Into that world, God thrusts his agents and catalysts of love and kindness.  Paul wrote about it in Colossians 3:12.  “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”  Those are marching orders for the faithful.  It is a clear statement of how we should maneuver through the maze of living in this world.  God’s people should stand out because they are compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, and patient.  In short, true Christians are selfless for the sake of Christ, and for others. 

Great Concept--There is a movie from a few years ago about a boy trying to make it through a difficult life who decided he would do random acts of kindness for no other reason than he wanted to make a difference in a world full of hate and wrong that he couldn’t understand.  His idea?  Do random acts of kindness of consequence and only require in return that the person helped will “pay it forward,” or repeat the acts of kindness to others who would do the same.  He thought the multiplying effect of what he started would change his world.  It is a great idea!  Sounds Christian. 

The concept is not just the naïve sappy sentimentality of a boy who has a great idea but doesn’t understand the world.  It is Christian truth embodied in action.  If only God’s people took that message to heart and acted on it regularly, the world would surely be changed.  When we wander through life looking for people to help in Christ’s name, he will surely give us opportunity to change the world around us, one life at a time.  Then we can require of those whose lives we affect the same thing Christ required of us when he changed our lives, “pay it forward.”  Imagine the multiplication effect of that!

Little Acts of Love--Preacher Fred Craddock said, “We think giving our all to the Lord is like taking a $1,000 bill and laying it on the table-‘Here’s my life, Lord.  I’m giving it all.’  But the reality for most of us is that he sends us to the bank and has us cash in the $1,000 for quarters.  We go through life putting out 25 cents here and 50 cents there.  Listen to the neighbor kid’s problems instead of saying, ‘Get lost.’ Go to a committee meeting.  Give a cup of water to a shaky old man in a nursing home.  Usually giving our life to Christ isn’t that glorious.  It is done in all those little acts of love, 25 cents at a time.  It would be easy to go out in a flash of glory, it’s harder to live the Christian life little by little over the long haul.” 

Fred Craddock said it well.  He exposed the unintentional little secret that could unleash the power of the church in this world.  Satan doesn’t want you to do anything about it.  He doesn’t even want you to know about it.  He knows the power of Christians who “pay it forward.”  He knows it would change the world.  So, the question is, “What are you going to do about it?”