Have you heard of the Human Carpet? He gets paid to go to parties where people can walk all over him. They can jump on him. Sit on him for hours. Surf on him. One time he did this for 11 straight hours! He wraps himself in a carpet, lays down and has never been hurt in the process.
I’m not advocating that we practice this in the church, but it illustrates the heart Jesus calls us to have for one another. Consider the Apostle’s Paul’s words in Philippians 2:1-5:
“1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”
What Paul describes is that Christians should have a willingness to put others’ interests before our own. Jesus isn’t calling us to self-harm. But he is calling us to servanthood and sacrifice, which does not always feel good. Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, those he’d poured his heart, time, emotion into. Servanthood and sacrifice. Deep kindness.
Barry Corey in Love Kindness provides a practical example of this when he says, “The kinder way is to be present in others’ lives with an honest spirit that isn’t waiting for the conversation to turn toward me. One of my friends said when he walks into a room, he doesn’t want to be thinking, ‘Here I am,’ he wants to be thinking ‘There you are,’ and see the other.”
Let me clarify: kindness doesn’t mean you need to best friends with everyone. Even in a smaller church when it is very possible to get to know everyone’s name, you don’t need to be best friends, or even close friends with everyone. But we should certainly be kind. And we should be receivable. The fruit of the Spirit should be evident in our lives and in our interactions with one another.
Let’s bring this back to where we started. We were talking about our interactions with people, in particular over this post-election time that is coming up. We are talking about how we interact with those whom will feel differently about the election results we will eventually learn.
I urge you to see others as image bearers of God. I urge you to make kindness the guiding mark of how you carry yourself. Some of you could be described as having a hard core, meaning you can hold firm your convictions. You can feel deeply that some issues are important and you hold them as dear to you. But even hard core opinions should be held and expressed in humility as one walking humbly with our God. Hard core opinions should be held and expressed with a soft edge, meaning you are gentle and kind in your reactions and in your engagement with others who feel differently than you. This means that you are not arrogant and mean. Arrogance and meanness are like sharp or hard edges that do not make you receivable. Those edges make it very difficult for others to meet and see Jesus in you. How we carry ourselves matters. How we interact with those who think differently than us matters.
My prayer for us as we wait for election results, and as we eventually live with the reality of those results, is that we see people as made in the image of God. That we would work to be more and more receivable to others, that we would carry ourselves in kindness.