Hello Humans of the internet! Happy Monday. I’m actually glad that it’s Monday because I’ve gotten and idea for a project at work and I can’t wait to send it to the customer. This summer, I was working at an arts based literacy camp which I believe I have mentioned before here. While there a co-worker said “You’d be surprised he’s atheist because he’s so kind.”
This obviously got me thinking and has kept me thinking for several months. This happened in July. I thought about doing a post right then about this, but I wanted to have give myself time to think more about what she had said. “You’d be surprised he’s atheist because he’s so kind.” I feel like that implies a lot of things that I’m not sure about.
Are you saying that people need the threat of Hell to be kind to each other?
Is Jesus and the eventual judgement day the only thing keeping you kind?
Do you think Christianity is purely about kindness?
I don’t know much about anything really. But the fact that a girl said this and a room full of Christian Sunday School teachers all agreed with her concerned me. Also that I was seen as not a good Christian because I said I didn’t think kindness was specific to Christianity. Because I can’t go back in time and explain what I was trying to convey now that I’ve had lots of time to overthink the whole situation, I’m going to tell y’all.
To begin with I don’t believe that Christianity is about kindness. Yes, we are called to help those in need. The widows and the orphans. The poor and hungry. But these things are not exclusive to Christianity. Anyone of any religion or no religion can feel compassion for another human. If you are kind to people as some sort of chore to God, I’m concerned about you.
For me, being a Christian is having a relationship with Christ. It is following him and what he is calling you to do even if you don’t think it’s something you are good at. I know a lot of Sunday School teachers quote “they will know you by your actions” to tell children to be kind. The teacher book I had suggested it. But, if you look up John 13:35, it doesn’t really say that and the surrounding versus at a lot to the meaning.
My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jew, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13: 33-35
It doesn’t say be nice to each other. It says love one another. Because I like to simplify things I thought I’d describe this with gummy bears (in college I wrote more than one essay in my ethics class describing complex themes with gummy bears and I got pretty good grades so I think this is effective).
There is a bowl full of gummy bears sitting on your desk. It’s way more gummy bears then you could eat at once and you have a friend with no gummy bears. Pretty much every person would share their gummy bears with their friend. Some people would share the gummy bears even if they didn’t know the other person. These are both kind people, but that’s not what God is calling us to do.
God calls us to love one another as he loves us.
There is a bowl on you desk that has a few gummy bears in it, about as many as you could eat in a sitting. There is a person with an empty bowl on their desk. You don’t know why their bowl is empty. Maybe they never had gummy bears. Maybe someone took their gummy bears. Maybe they ate all of their gummy bears. It doesn’t matter. You see that they don’t have, so you offer all of your gummy bears.
Maybe gummy bears seems a little silly, but replace gummy bears with something else like food, shelter, warm blankets, love, anything. God calls us to give all of our gifts and to trust that he will provide.
Sorry to be a little preachy teachy. My Sunday School students started attending a bigger church with a better youth group and that was my favorite part of the week. So, now I have no one to talk with about the big ideas in the Bible.
Whatever your religion is, what does it mean to you to follow it?