Saturday, April 23, 2011

What is The Gospel?

What is the Gospel? Here's a short video where John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, offers an explanation.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I'm Afraid of Being Nice

I'm afraid of being nice. It's not that I don't want to be kind or helpful to you. The fear is rooted in being misunderstood. There is no doubt that I should be nice because you are neighbor, friend or family member. But I should be nice for a greater reason. I should be nice because you are a fellow citizen, driver, shopper or thinker. But I should be nice for a greater reason.

Where I live people are generally nice. They help one another. They try to put the pieces back together when disaster or tragedy comes. They do caring things. They're nice. It's nice. That's nice.

My fear is that being nice brings some glory to God, but not enough.

I fear it brings some glory to God because it shows we are created in the image of a God that is kind, caring and loving. And our acts of kindness are a reflection of these wonderful traits. That is a good thing.

However, these acts of niceness don't show the full depths of God's love, kindness and care.

When I am nice I am often acting out of sympathy. I feel pity for the situation you're in and will offer some help to bail you out.

Sometimes I am acting out of empathy. I hope you'll do the same for me if I wind up in the same situation.

Sometimes I am acting out of selfishness. I hope you'll realize the mean thing you did to me by seeing the nice thing I did for you.

Sometimes I am acting out of pride. I hope the other people around us will see how nice I am because of what I just did for you.

True kindness is much more than this. And to understand it requires explanation.

The Apostle John said in 1 John 4:7-21, "In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."

Do you see the components of this love? God loves someone that does not love Him. God demonstrates this love with the action of sending Jesus Christ to die to offer us forgiveness. Because the person receiving the display of love does not love God, at least not at first, there is no guarantee that love will be returned.

That is risky. It is love simply for the sake of love. It is not love for the sake of returned love. That doesn't seem very natural to my mind. I mean really, what if the other person doesn't do anything in return? Can I accept that?

So here's where we bring it together.

I'm afraid simply being nice confuses people because I am assuming most people are like me. I'll hold the door for you so you'll hold the door for me. While that is nice, it isn't love. At least not the kind of love God calls us to receive from Him, show to Him and show to others.

And here's the part that isn't very nice.

In your niceness, what is your motive? What are you trying to accomplish? When are you willing to be nice? If your kindness is to resemble that of God's kindness you are being called to a whole new level of living.