Every year, I watch the posts fly about what individuals are “giving up” for Lent. The crash diets and motivation to finally clean out the closets are worthy of being posted on social media, but I question if they really challenge us to understand the meaning of Lent and the sacrifice which we remember during Holy Week. As I pondered how I would approach this Lenten season, I decided that I wanted to turn things around in my own life and rather than give something up or give something away, I will take something on, just as Christ took on the sins of the world in his own death.
Over the next several weeks, I will strive to “take on” one new thing each week, in turn striving to take on more of the love and grace which Christ exhibited throughout his life, death, and resurrection. I hope that you will join me and share your own experiences!
12 No one has ever seen God. If we love each other,
God remains in us and his love is made perfect in us.
1 John 4:12 (CEB)
I have recently become enthralled with a show on Netflix, “The Kindness Diaries.” this series documents the travels of a well off man, Leon, who has decided that his wealth is best used through helping others. As he travels across the world solely on the kindness of others (including both a boat ride across the Atlantic and a flight over the conflict ridden Middle East), Leon listens to the stories of those whom he meets and repays their kindness, even repaying the kindness of the man experiencing homelessness who offered his space to Leon for a night’s sleep. Long story short, go watch this show.
As I sat through one episode after another the other day, I wondered how I would respond to a stranger asking if they might stay in my home for the night. I realized that there are more times than I am comfortable with that I have completely ignored the request for something as simple as food and my heart broke as I took my place next to the hundreds who turned Leon away (and who I had been questioning up to that point).
Then I thought about Christ.
Christ’s journey to the cross would have been very similar to Leon’s, travelling from town to town and likely looking for a place to sleep each night and a meal to fill his belly. Even as he wondered what each day would hold, we mostly learn of his kindness toward everyone else; the same kindness that ultimately took Christ to the cross.
We never know what will happen when we open ourselves to share a bit of kindness in our world – sure, we might get “burned” but we are more likely to change a life, even our own. We never know the story behind every person’s ask, or fear of asking. When we take on kindness and share it with each person we encounter, God’s word travels into the heart of each person. God’s grace binds us together and our act of kindness shapes the future actions of all who witness it.
Kindness takes time though. Kindness takes intentionality. Kindness takes courage. Kindness is only complete when shared in a genuine, love and grace filled manner. Christ’s kindness was shared without an ask for anything in return and we should follow that example.
During this fourth week of Lent, I invite you to join me in the challenge to share a bit more kindness with those who we meet. Maybe that will mean simply helping a colleague when you are busy and maybe it will mean opening your home to someone seeking a place to eat or rest. We never know who God sends our way, but we can find confidence knowing that each and every one of us is a chosen and beloved child of God, all seeking a little extra kindness in our lives. When we share a bit of kindness with a stranger, we might as well be sharing that kindness with Christ as he makes his way to the cross.
As we seek the kindness of others,
May others find kindness through us.
As we question and challenge, offering excuse after excuse,
may our hearts be opened to difficult change.
May we follow Christ’s example,
Opening our lives to our neighbors
This and every single day.
Rev. Jordan B. Davis (M.Div. ‘14)
Associate Pastor, Youth & Young Adults
Kirk of Kildaire, Presbyterian (Cary, NC)