ULC Update for July 2018

JULY 31, 2018

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As a Unified Leadership Council, we are intentionally seeking to grow together to embody more fully the likeness of Christ.  During each meeting, we share in a time of spiritual development. During our July meeting, this time was spent on learning about one of the fruits of the Spirit – kindness.  Here is a window into our time together – we hope these thoughts are a gift in your life of growing as disciples, too: 

Kindness. It is one of the fruits that the Holy Spirit produces in our lives, mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. Colossians 3:12 says “Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourself with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” 

These are some of the qualities that make our lives look different. So, specifically, what does kindness look like? It looks a lot like Jesus, whose life shows many glimpses of displays of kindness. More on that to come…but first, let’s talk more about how it makes us feel. Kindness extended to us makes us feel warm and fuzzy. It is an act of caring concern.  

In a 2003 study of 37 cultures around the world, 16,000 people were asked their most desired traits in a mate. For both sexes, the top preference was kindness. A large-scale study of school bullies was conducted around 2009 to learn why they bully other children. The conclusion: they enjoy doing it! A clear indicator that kindness must be learned.  

Kindness starts with…

  1. Caring.
  1. Making it our goal/habit to be actively looking for opportunities to show kindness…and respond accordingly! Kindness requires self-sacrifice and generosity, done humbly, quietly, and maybe even anonymously, with no expectation of repayment.

“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions!” 1 John 3:18.

  1. Offering words of comfort, courtesy, and compliments. Offer words of encouragement whenever possible!  

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Philippians 2:3-4

Jesus expressed kindness in 3 specific ways.

  1. Touching those who were untouchable. In Matthew 8:2, when a man with leprosy knelt down in front of Jesus and asked him to heal him, Jesus reached out and touched the man, saying in verse 3, “Be healed!”

Kindness of touch is often overlooked in several cultures, including ours! A French psychologist, Sidney Jourard, visited cafes and observed friends interacting for an hour. During this hour in England, no one touched. In the US, he counted 2 touches. In France, 110 touches, and in Puerto Rico, 180 touches! In an online article, Psychology Today says that touch is a way for us to communicate “love, joy, gratitude, and sympathy”. With a high five given to a child or a warm hand squeeze shared with an elderly friend, we have the ability to extend kindness. 

  1. Spending time with those others had rejected. Zacchaeus, to many people in his day, was viewed as a despised tax collector. When Jesus told Zacchaeus that he was headed to his house, Jesus didn’t as much as mention Zacchaeus’s poor life choices before Zacchaeus burst out that he would give away half of his wealth to the poor. And to those he had cheated on their taxes, he would give them back 4 times as much! (Luke 19:8)
  1. Showing compassion to those who were suffering. In Luke 8, Jesus extends kindness to a woman with a bleeding problem who reached out and touched his outer garment, responding, in verse 48, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” 

These are stories where Jesus showed the effects that our acts of kindness can have, breaking down barriers and changing our world into one where joy and love live.  

Personal thoughts:

As I was in the preparation stage for a devotion on this topic for one of our ULC meetings, I was with my nieces at Messiah College. They were riding scooters and I was running behind them, trying to keep up their pace on a downhill portion of our ride/run. Riley wiped out. A young boy who had already sprinted past me, out on a run with his ipod in hand, saw it happen and was the first on the scene.  He leaned down and offered her some help in getting up. I breathlessly approached in time to hear her mumbling an embarrassed response…and spoke up to thank the boy for being so kind and offering to help her up! He ran on…and seconds later, after Riley had picked herself up and we were seated next to each other on the curb, a man driving a large van with a Messiah College sticker on its door rolled to a stop across the road from us, with his window rolled down, asking if we needed any help…or a bandaid. 1 scooter wipeout = 2 displays of kindness. And only days later, when I saw a man with a “will work for food” standing at the end of the exit ramp leading to the church where I was meeting a friend on her lunch break, I had the opportunity to extend kindness…but failed to do so. I had picked strawberries that morning and had brought along a container of them to give to my friend. Instead of handing them out the window to the man, who was standing outside in the oppressive heat, and giving some to my friend at a later time, I was glad to see a driver from a car a few cars up hand him a bottle of water…before I drove on by. That same day, I was headed to Hershey to donate platelets (similar to a blood donation) on behalf of a former student’s family. Sometimes I do choose kindness! So, instead of beating myself up over a missed opportunity, I have decided to continue to ask God to help me to live with eyes wide open to the opportunities He places before me, trusting that His Spirit will prompt me into action. 

A challenge: 

How will you extend kindness to someone today? A hug? Kind words? An encouraging note? The offering of a listening ear and/or some undivided attention? Live with your eyes wide open. Go be kind…

Shannon Zimmerman, Unified Leadership Council Member & Liaison with Welcoming Ministries Team

*Preface by Pastor Anna