Connected in Community by Kindness

Love keeps us together. Longsuffering keeps us together. Now let's try a little kindness.

Connected in Community by Kindness

Jesus prayed that we may be one

John 17:20-21 (NIV)
I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

If you are in Christ, you are one with every other believer who is in Christ. Makes sense, if you’re one with the One then your one with all others who are one with the One. One doesn’t mean separate one means together.

Paul, a follower of Jesus, gave us a word picture for this truth of oneness. He described this truth as the body of Christ. Paul wrote to the Church in Ephesus that the body grows, matures, and builds itself as each follower of Jesus does his or her part. 

Ephesians 4:14-16 (NIV)
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Believers are all connected to one another. You have a part to play and in doing so you keep the body healthy, full of life, full of the presence of God. We have been exploring what keeps us connected because the saints of God have a difficult time maintaining the unity of the faith. You have a part to play in keeping the entire body connected. We know that love connects each of us. Love is showing respect to everyone and meeting the need of another as the opportunity arises often at the cost of a personal sacrifice. Love keeps us together. We know that longsuffering keeps us connected to one another. Longsuffering is the empowerment of the Holy Spirit that helps you stick with the people who don’t get it. Longsuffering keeps us together. Love and longsuffering are how we are to live in the body. In this teaching, we will explore how we are connected one to another and keep that connection vitally alive through kindness.

Kindness seems to be a lost art in today’s culture. In a culture that is all about egoism, all about I, Me and Mine, rudeness predominates. A couple of rudes that I experienced this week: 1. The guy in the car next to me is got his music turned up so loud it drowns out my radio. Come On Man. 2. Walking up to the checkout line and out of the corner of my eye I see this lady picking up speed to cut in front of me. Come On Lady. 3. Pull into the Costco parking lot, but wait I can’t because shopping carts are in the space. Come On Shopper. 4. He just cut me off from my exit. Come On Driver. 5. Having a 9AM doctor’s appointment and not being seen until 10:30. Come On Doc. 6. Watching an apparently non-physically disabled person use a disabled placard just because that’s where you should park your brand new BMW i8 Roadster.  Come On Elite. 7 Kid is walking home from school digging in his backpack, something falls out and he just lets it lay and keeps on walking. Come on Kid.  8. Waiting on the traffic light and the person in front of me empties their ash try in the street. Come on Smoker. A cigarette butt is flicked out the car window. That’s just this week!  Oh the list goes on, here are some things I never do: a. Fail to use my turn signal. b. Paying more attention to the Restaurant TV behind Sherri than to Sherri. c. Ignoring an RSVP request.   Well enough about me, how about telemarketers?  How about talking so loud on your cell phone that everyone can hear your conversation? I don’t want to know when your next Brazilian waxing appointment is. How about dressing inappropriately? P.J’s are not outdoor wear.  How about a verbal discourse that features an explicative every third word?

Sometimes it feels like we live in an age of impertinence, impudence, insolence effrontery and a bunch of other words I looked up in the Thesaurus.  The reason for the growing rudeness in our society is that more and more people are living separated from Godly principles (Ephesians 4:18).  What may be normal and expected behavior for those living apart from the Body, is certainly not what is expected for believers within the Body.

To become engrafted in the Body requires faith in Jesus. Faith is trust and confidence that moves you to action. Inclusion in the Body requires Faith that convinces you to trust that the revelation of scripture is true:. “…the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ…” (Romans 6:23 (NIV).  "This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted…” (John 3:16-18 (MSG). 

To become one with the Body requires faith, that makes you confident; confident that Jesus by his death and resurrection makes it possible for you to enter into a right relationship with God (2 Timothy 1:12).  “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit…” (1 Peter 3:18 (NIV). 

To be united in the body requires faith, that moves you to action. That action is to believe and to confess publically that you have received God’s gracious offer to become His. “That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Romans 10:9-10 (NIV).

Ask God to accept your faith, tell somebody what you have done, and you are in Christ a part of His body.  The Holy Spirit empowers you from within to get rid of rudeness and replace it with Kindness.

Ephesians 4:32
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Kindness makes love and longsuffering visible. In the original language be kind is written in such a way as to mean “keep on becoming kind” (chrestoi). So being kind is a continuing inside job, it is a way of being in this life. The more you actualize the Hoy Spirit’s power to be kind the more it becomes who you are (Luke 6:45).

“Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Affection, gentleness, warmth, concern, and care are words that are associated with kindness.”  [Karyn Hall Ph.D. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/pieces-mind/201712/the-importance-kindness]  It is demonstrated in the way we communicate to one another in the body. Our communication, the words we speak, the body language we employ, is to be compassionately gracious, we tell the truth in a gentle way.  A kind word can quickly defuse a hostile situation (Proverbs 15:1) and make someone’s day.

Colossians 4:6 (MSG)
Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.

Kindness is demonstrated in the way we listen to one another in the body. Kind listening is not just acting polite as someone babbles on about something that you have absolutely no interest in.  One of the tricks of listening is to listen to the heart of the speaker. There is a need to communicate something, they may just be asking a question—“Do you value me? Do you understand me? Do you see me?” with the entire conversation.  Listening is a great gift to give someone.

James 1:19 (NCV)
My dear brothers and sisters, always be willing to listen…

Kindness is demonstrated in the way we communicate, the way we listen, and the way we do good for others.  Kindness involves the simple decision to do no harm to others.  Kindness decides I will not steal your dignity; I will not undermine your self-worth; I will not profane your name.  Slander, gossip, accusations will not come from my lips. Instead, Kindness involves the simple decision to do good to others.   

Luke 6:31 (MSG)
"Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them!

As kindness grows within, we are quick to build others up.  One of the great blessings of being part of the body is to be used by God to lend a hand up for a brother or sister.  Commiserate and encourage, celebrate and support,  intercede, give hugs and smiles, pray on the spot, be hospitable, reach out beyond your four and no more group, include, invite, and when you can meet a need. 

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (MSG)
“…speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you'll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind.”

The Body thrives in Kindness as each one of us is kind to one another.  Being kind is one of the parts you play in the Body.  In your kindness, the entire body is built up, strengthened in love.  An added reward is that when you are kind you feel good, your random acts of kindness make you happy.

There’s more—Kindness is a witness, a testimony that reveals God to those outside the body.  In a world of rudeness, your acts of kindness shout out to people that there is a better way to live.  Kindness leads to repentance (Romans 2:4).  Can you recall the One Minute Witness video of the guy telling the barista in regular conversation the change Jesus made in his life?  As you extend kindness to those outside the body, they just might say thank you. If they do you can say “you’re welcome, just paying forward what I have received.” If they then ask “what did you receive?” you can tell them about the kindness of a man who paid all your debts, rehabbed your life, and helped you to become sane and whole. “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” (Leo Buscaglia)

Kindness reaches out and touches others with the love of God.  This is how we are to live in the Body. This is the part that each of us is to play, being kind.

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