The word conserve means to protect from harm or destruction. What should Christians be doing to conserve kindness in our American culture? We watched the recent judicial battles over Judge Kavanaugh and saw very little kindness extended toward anyone during his Supreme Court confirmation. It will be incredibly important, especially this week, that the Christian community is prepared to respond to our critics with kindness instead of responding “in kind.” In fact, the Christian culture in America is becoming more like the first century each day.
First-century Christians were treated with disdain by almost every other group. The Jewish population viewed them as heretics and perverters of God’s word. Roman politicians came to see the Christians as subversive dissidents to the government. Many of the philosophers of that day saw them as uneducated in their thinking. It has been interesting to listen to the rhetoric about the “far right.” But, to be fair, Christians today are often more interested in voting and voicing our “right” opinions than we are in living and acting as people who want to be right in God’s eyes. Many Christians are slandering and shouting too. We will blow it if we step away from God’s ability to bless our actions.
Are we to treat others like we are being treated, or like we wish we were being treated? I know if you are reading this blog, you know Jesus’ answer to that last question! We need to be careful not to act “in kind” and choose instead to be kind. Have your words, attitudes, and actions honored Jesus these past few weeks? If we don’t act with considerable kindness right now, the only real winner in this whole situation will be Satan.
Satan wins even when we take the right side—as long as we choose to sin in the way we take it. Has Satan been winning a few victories among God’s people these past few days? I could do a little confessing right now, but let’s just say I’ve been consistently avoiding network news for the past few weeks because Satan was winning a victory or two with every broadcast!
I have wanted to shout as loudly and openly as the people in the seats, streets, elevators, restaurants, and news broadcasts. I wanted to make my opinions known too. But, I had to shout at my walls, my friends, family, and anyone else I felt comfortable imposing my bad attitudes upon. I’ve probably had a few self-righteous eye rolls in public as well. After all, it doesn’t seem as large a sin if I don’t voice actual words.
I did have this one, rather amazing thought. One day, when we all get to heaven, we will never have to work at being kind. We won’t have to try hard not to slander. We won’t ever roll our eyes in disgust over anything or anyone. We won’t ever feel the need or desire to act unkindly toward someone, and no one will act unkindly toward us. Can you even imagine what that will be like?
But, if you are reading these words, you aren’t there yet. Until then, and especially now, we need to make a conscious decision to respond to people with kindness that may never be reciprocated. I think one of the reasons Christians blow up and lose control with others is that it seems easier to be treated unkindly when we think we have done something to deserve it. It’s hard to be misunderstood, disliked, or belittled when we haven’t treated others that way. But let’s face it: we have treated others that way, even if it was just in our hearts.
So, how do we conserve kindness in our culture? Huffington Post ran an article on kindness that made this point: “Happiness researcher Sean Achor demonstrated through his extensive research that if you perform random acts of kindness for two minutes a day for twenty-one days, you can actually retrain your brain to be more positive. Studies such as his show that when your brain is more positive you are more likely to be creative, intelligent and productive.” It is an interesting idea.
What if Christians everywhere made it a point to respond and reply with godly kindness each time we have that opportunity for the next twenty-one days. Would we find ourselves thinking with a more positive attitude toward our culture? Would they think with a more positive attitude toward us? Would our Christian witness be more creative, intelligent, and productive? Most importantly, would Jesus and the Kingdom of God be gaining the important victories?
God planned for you to be alive for “such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). The Lord would want us to remember his direction this week. Jesus taught, “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil” (Luke 6:35).
God has high standards for all that we say and do. And He already gave us the highest reward possible. He made us his children and gave us his word and his Holy Spirit so we could live by his “Most High” standards. All of us will have plenty of opportunities to conserve kindness in our culture. I wonder if, twenty-one days from now, we will all feel a LOT better about things if we do.