The Kindness Diaries is a show I found on Netflix recently. I liked the show’s premise. It’s about this English guy who hops on a motorcycle with no money and sets out to travel the globe depending only on the kindness of strangers for food, gas, and shelter. A few people turn him away, but by and large people are pretty helpful.
So often when we stand back and look at the world from a distance, it looks bad. Terrible even.
But when we zoom in close, it begins to look differently.
People are still people and we are still image bearers of God. And while the media would love for us to appear angry and divided, mean-spirited and uncaring, what we find when we look up close is interesting. We find a world full of really wonderful, caring and kind people who, when presented with the opportunity, are more than willing to help their fellow humans, no matter their race, religion, political views, or whatever.
Sometimes in our laziness, we choose to sit back and be spoon fed our opinions. We decide to trust what those who appear to be out there and in the know about things to tell us how to feel, think, and behave. But we are often being handed a pile of twisted truths.
Of course, there are real atrocities in the world. Evil is rampant, and the god of this world is doing what he does best, and he will keep right on working without vacation until Jesus comes back. You only need turn on the television to see those horrors in real time. We offer him free 24-hour coverage on our cable news networks. He is pushing and prodding his demented ideology upon many of us who are not paying attention, and people are suffering greatly because of it.
But when we look more closely at what’s going on, really, we don’t have to search too far to find kindness and love even in the most unlikely places.
The true God of this world calls upon us to love one another… unequivocally and without exception. But love almost always costs us something, so we tend to dole it out carefully and in measured amounts. We decide to give it only to those who we think deserve it, agree with us, or are like us. Our love is worth something, after all, and how could it be prudent to pass it out willy-nilly without first counting the cost?
Only that doesn’t make any sense in God’s economy. The cost counting time came when we decided to give our lives wholly and completely to Jesus. And even before that, Jesus counted the cost when He decided to take our shameless sinning upon Himself, and pay that unfathomable debt.
The cost for love has been paid already. The source of our love is God Himself who knows no boundary or limit, so there is no foundation for our decision to ration our love. We can love the unlovely without fear of then not having enough to love those we find easy to love.
Real life change cannot happen from a distance, and it cannot happen in the absence of love. No one ever changed a political view because we threw a rock at them. No one’s heart was moved toward Jesus because we hit them with clever biblical rhetoric. Change comes when we snuggle up close and show people love. Love can melt even the hardest of hearts, and it can open even the most cemented of minds. It’s the only thing that ever has made real and lasting change possible.
If we stand and watch at a distance, things look pretty bad. If we want to see the love, kindness, compassion, and selflessness we have to step in for a closer look. Those are at work through us because God is at work in us.
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.” 1 John 4:7