Considering kind in the rewind
I don’t know exactly when I learned it, and I don’t know exactly when I unlearned it.
I think learning it was an extension of how all those flannelgraph bible stories were interpreted by a young mind, and later I found myself in churches with teachings that solidified it. It sounded something like this:
The kindness of God is really just a veiled threat.
As an adult I found myself very familiar with a judgmental God who was irritated that His wayward children were constantly messing up. Any mention of His kindness conjured up an image of an angry God gritting His teeth and being nice to me one last time before He really let me have it. After all, He was GOD, and I was inherently unworthy and miserable to tolerate.
It never occurred to me that it wasn’t actually God who was like that, but many Christians I’d met. And it also never occurred to me that when scripture speaks of God’s kindness, it really means that He is kind.
Kindness is an authentic concern for others. A pleasant disposition. An unwillingness to be unnecessarily harsh, rude, or condemning. I would recognize these behaviors as kindness if I saw one human display them toward another. Why did I define it differently for God?
And wouldn’t you be reluctant to be authentic and intimate with a God whose kindness wasn’t pleasant, and whose love held little affection?
In the 2nd chapter of Romans it speaks of God’s kindness leading us to repentance. Which it did, and does, but even greater for me is the realization that His kindness led me to His kindness. I was the bruised reed that He refused to break. I was the assaulted one He hid under His wings. I was the captive whose chains He crushed.
He didn’t just love me; He liked me.
I don’t know how you can have an encounter with His kindness and remain unchanged. I am perpetually blown away by the effects of His kindness. It never feels like a get-out-of-jail-free card. Sometimes it doesn’t feel good at all. But it always feels safe. It can leave me feeling stripped to the bone and flatter than the sidewalk, but somehow in that place of humility and pain, there is also peace. His kindness always makes way for peace.
I look back now and am overwhelmed. I don’t know how I got from point A to point B. I can’t list a set of steps or techniques. I just know that Jesus shows us the Father, and the Holy Spirit shows us Jesus, and God’s very nature is to agree with Himself. And somewhere along the way the agreement was to move me with kindness.