Acts of Kindness
37 You know the events that took place throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John preached: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how he went about doing good and healing all who were under the tyranny of the devil, because God was with him. Acts 10:37-38
At LifeSpring Church we are trying to do a new thing in our community and in our city. We are trying to plant a new church, and our hoping that God is going to use us to make a difference in the lives of the people around us. But how in the world are we supposed to do this? Where do we start?
Over the past couple of weeks at our launch team meetings we have been talking about the keys to church planting. Thus far we have talked about prayer, and we have talked about loving people in the same way that God loved us. But where do we go from there? Lucky for us Jesus gave us a model.
Jesus loved us. That much is incredibly clear. But he demonstrated this love by doing three things: he noticed a need, he entered into our lives, and he acted. Think about it: Jesus saw from heaven, he noticed, our inability to save ourselves. We were lost and hopeless. So he came in the flesh through the incarnation. He entered into our lives to do something about it. Then he died on the cross for us and for the sins of the world. He noticed, he entered, and he acted.
This was just a large scale demonstration of this model. Jesus also did this throughout his ministry. He noticed needs, he entered into people's lives, and he acted. We should follow Jesus by doing the same thing.
Notice - This is the first step and this is the key to everything that follows. If we never notice we will not act. This takes some intentionality. It takes getting out of a self-centered lifestyle and looking around us to see what is happening in other people’s lives. It is very possible we do not notice what’s going on because we honestly do not care yet. But love demands care. It demands we start noticing by putting ourselves in other people’s shoes and treating them like we would like to be treated if we were them. Ask God for love, for compassion, and for the eyes to see the needs around us.
Enter - This takes sacrifice. It often requires us to leave behind what we want and what we think is most important in order to do what is in the best interest of. Noticing is not enough. We must care enough to enter other people’s situations. The reality is that most of us have all seen needs and felt like we should help but in the end we talk ourselves out of it. We come up with excuses: we are too busy, it will be too complicated, it will be messy, I am not dressed for it, or I do not really know what I am doing. But imagine if God had noticed, but never entered. Part of our response to Jesus’ grace is entering into the lives of other people, just like he did. No matter how messy; no matter how inconvenient it is.
Act - Finally we act. We help them and show kindness in a practical and tangible way. You do not have to be rocket scientist to open a door, or to help carry groceries. You may not have that gift of healing, but you can give the gift of presence and care, the gift of brownies or babysitting, or of cat sitting or dog walking. Or of just asking how someone is and listening. The problem here is we make this more difficult than it has to be. Do not overcomplicate things. Simple things matter.
If we really want to make a difference in our community it is going to start with this. If we really want to reach people with the truth of the gospel, we must first show them that we care about them. We must demonstrate love and grace. It is like show and tell. These things go together. We cannot separate them. The telling does not have the affect you want if you do not have something to show as well. That is why acts of kindness are so important.
So what can you do? What have you noticed? What needs can you meet? We all need to start somewhere. Maybe you need to make a list. But do not stop there because that is just the first step. We must then also enter and act if we want to love and reach people the same way Jesus did.