Saturday, October 01, 2005
Leading with Kindness
Now, what could be more dynamic than a plant? Trees take apart rock, and grass rends the street. If you want concrete proof, just look around.
That's an aside, though. The real question is "Who cares?" Call it whatever the hell you want, just go out and do it. Lots of people get so much into planning, and designing logos, and coining clever phrases, that they never really do anything. Young and trendy types, mostly.
A name does not solve the problem. What problem are we trying to solve? The same problem that God is trying to solve: bring the world's population back to his bosom.
If God worked the way a church worked, there'd be studies, and consultants, building designs, a few bake sales, planning sessions. Thousands of years would go by as the plan was refined and made elegantly relevant. Anyone who didn't fit the plan would be out of luck. "Sorry. We're doing the greatest good for the greatest number." If God really worked that way we'd all be out of luck.
What God really does is lead by the example of kindness. I can hear the sneers. "What about Egypt? What about Sodom? What about hell?" Yes, God has quite a reputation but that's due to the fact that churches, and Satan, handle the most popular PR channels. To find the truth about God you have to ignore all that and, as Jesus suggested, "Go and see."
If God acted the way most people think he does the earth would be a sterile desert. He'd have gotten tired of us long ago. Instead, God looked at what happened when Eve and Adam disobeyed, saw the outworkings, and made a decision. He would redeem the place himself, putting the major burden on his own Son. No matter the cost, God would bring people back to himself.
Christians fail to see the projection of this. A plan that starts with this demonstration of love, of caring for people, isn't going to devolve into purposeless punishment. Go read the story of Moses and Pharaoh to see how many chances God gave the latter as Moses negotiated. God didn't pull the plug until Pharaoh was committed to his own plan of cheating.
If God weren't the very embodiment of love, I'd be dead. He'd have lost patience long ago. Instead, he waited for year after weary year until I got to where I'd ask for help, and now he protects me as if I were the last little hot coal in a frozen world, trying with everything he has to keep the spark alive. It's difficult because I have so little respect for life. I don't look forward to each day, as some do; I'd just as soon not wake up.
How do you change that attitude? Why do you bother? Most people wouldn't bother trying. Waste of effort, and I'd end up on the triage room floor. Just make it painless, please. But God won't give up. He's not interested in performance. He loves people. He genuinely loves all of us, each of us individually, so much that he will do ANYTHING to keep us alive.
That's the example that the church needs to give. Forget the fancy names. Show the world a God who is alive, and wants people to live. Of course, this course will draw criticism like lightning to a copper pole held high, but it is a battle. Quit concentrating on the battle, though, because it's already won. Go on with life, your hand in God's kind hold.
I know that standard models of kindness aren't compatible with pain, but God sees that differently too. Old habits are hard to break, and hurt in the breaking. Pain is inevitable. One day maybe I'll think it was all worthwhile.