...all my kindness is taken for weaknessMistaking kindness for weakness in others is one of the biggest things we human beings make about others, I think.
But kindness is a way love and true strength are enacted.
If there's anything I learn from Jesus and the Bible, it's that love is expressed in actions, even toward those we find exasperating...or hateful.
In Jesus Christ, God has done the ultimate kindness for the human race. He bore our sin on the cross in order to take the punishment, death, we deserve.
Then He rose from the dead to take back from Satan and the evil of this already dying world the everlasting life that God intended for all of us.
And then, through no merit of our own, He offered the victory over sin and death He had won, along with eternal life with God, as free gifts to all who renounce sin and trust Him to destroy the sin in us.
The world mistook Jesus' kindness--His willing submission to death on a cross in spite of His power to evade it and to destroy those who took His life--for weakness. It still does.
But Jesus expressed the very strength of God in His seeming weakness.
The same is true for all who bear the Name of Christ, God in the flesh.
God answered the apostle Paul's prayers for deliverance from a persistent "thorn in his flesh" by saying that He would not say, "Yes" to that prayer because, "...my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). God's power is manifest in those willing to have their emptiness and weakness filled by the One Who made the universe with His strength and His goodness.
God's power too, is seen in the willingness of Jesus followers to serve others in precisely the way Jesus has served us on the cross and from the empty tomb.
In what was the Gospel lesson in many churches across North America yesterday, we were told that Jesus healed the mother-in-law of His disciple, Simon Peter. Immediately afterward, Mark says of the woman that "she served them," meaning Jesus, Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John.
Some read this or hear this and are horrified. A woman gets healed and the first thing she has to do is serve others. Humiliating, right?
But people who react in this way mistake kindness for weakness.
Simon Peter's mother-in-law "got it" before her son-in-law did. She understood that when the God of the universe serves you and loves you, the only reasonable and appropriate response is to be a servant.
She understood what James and John still had not gotten nine chapters later in Mark's gospel. The two were certain that Jesus was going to be a worldly triumph--Grammys, Oscars, Nobel Peace Prizes, landslide election victories, vast wealth, and military conquest in hand--and could make them His president and prime minister. "Grant," they asked Jesus, "that when you come into your glory, we'll sit on either side of you."
Jesus disappointed them with His answer, no doubt. At least until after His death and resurrection, when they finally began to "get it." Jesus said:"...whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,
There is no one I can meet in the world to make me any more valuable than God has already made me."
When you know that, in Christ, you have the approval of God, you can afford to look weak to the world. You can dare to be kind knowing that however much others may abuse you for it, God is with you and you can never be separated from Christ. Kindness rooted in the certainty that you belong to Christ always is an act of boldness and courage. The kind are subversives in a conspiracy with Christ to overthrow the kingdoms of this world and boldly proclaim that, "There is no king but the God we meet in Jesus and wouldn't you like to be part of His kingdom?"