Reclaiming the spirituality of serving the other…

Another post about kindness…

I have written before about this issue– suggesting that I thought that kindness is a good measure of spiritual maturity. We talked a little around this the other night with my Aoradh chums.

Of course, being kind is not a universal sign of spiritual, or emotional health. The drive to please other people can be a destructive one. However, I still maintain that Christian spirituality that lacks kindness as one of its visible manifestations is likely also to be missing the point.

Which of course- is love.

The kind of love that is patient, kind and does not envy, boast, act proudly or haughtily. The sort of love that is not rude, or self-seeking, is not easily angered, and keeps no record of wrongs. A love that does not delight in seeing evil in others but makes partnerships of truth. A protective, trusting, ever-hopeful kind of love that just does not give up. (1 Corinthians 13.)

The idealism of this kind of love defeats me at times- but it is an idealism that I will not let go.

So, if we Christians are called to be a blessing on the world around us because of the distinctiveness of our loving,  the way that this will be revealed is in this simple thing called kindness– expressed between ourselves in community, but also looking outwards into the places where we live work and play.

Here are links to a couple of resources that dig into this issue.

Firstly- Generous. This is an opportunity for Christians to sign up to acts of generosity- for the sake of the environment, and for the sake of others around us. There are whole categories of suggested actions that you can consider putting time/energy towards.

I came across Off The Map recently- a group trying to encourage us to reimagine evangelism- together they designed an approach to evangelism that “rescued it out of program prison, made it doable for ordinary Christians and restored it back to the spiritual practice Jesus modeled in his interactions with Outsiders.” They called it Doable Evangelism. This led to a book called Evangelism Without Additives and an organization called Doable Evangelism.

Here is some thing that they produced that resonated with me for its simplicity- and it’s kindness.

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1 Corinthians 13

Even if I pack the Albert Hall with the power of my salvation message

Or my books require their own Amazonian warehouse

If the God Channel carries my healings back to back

And I make theology the sport of masses

Should I become the spider

In the World Wide Web

And Google all for Jesus

…but I have no love

Then I am like a dropped biscuit tin

In an empty kitchen

I am a like a bad busker in a windy street

Competing

With a massed brass band.

And even if I can predict the future price of a billion stocks and shares

Or know the coming weather

If my wisdom knows not the limit of Oxbridge

Nor lacks the ears of those with power

If I know all the words of God for this our time

And shout them loud

…but I have no love

I am nothing.

I am like a stain on the shirt

Of a crack addict

I am like a dandelion

Growing in the gutter

Of a derelict building

If I should I sell my penthouse flat and

Give my widescreen TV to Oxfam

And if I walk into a war zone

Waving flags of peace

Or become the world’s best known eco-warrior

And single handedly heal the Ozone hole

And even if all this should cost my final breath

…but I have no love

Then I am empty

Like the pockets of a gambler

Or the stomach

Of a starving child

Like a road laid

To nowhere

Like a life lived

For nothing

8.8.08