“In 2016, a man boarded a subway in Vancouver, Canada. He became aggressive, shouting and cursing at the other passengers. He jerked around erratically. The man was either mentally ill or under the influence of drugs. Everyone on the train backed away. And then, suddenly, a seventy-year-old woman seated nearby reached out and held the hand of the shouting, cursing man. The gesture calmed him. The man quieted and then slumped to the ground, tears filling his eyes. The woman kept holding his hand. When he reached his stop, the man stood up and said, ‘Thanks, grandma.’ He exited and walked away. Ehab Taha was on that train, and he took a picture of the old woman and the crazed man holding hands. He posted the picture to social media, and it quickly went viral. ‘It was quite incredible how much he calmed down in a split moment,’ Taha later said. ‘It was the most touching thing I’ve ever seen.’ . . .
“I think it’s time for Christians to give the word love a rest. . . . Imagine what it would be like if Christians gave up trying to love the world for an entire year and instead committed ourselves to practicing kindness—kinder on social media, kinder with our coworkers, kinder with our family, kinder with our friends . . . . Kindness isn’t a spiritual ideal or aspiration; kindness is a behavior that causes you to lean in while others are leaning away. It’s a behavior like taking the hand of a scary man on a subway, or eating lunch with someone who is sitting alone, or welcoming a woman in a hijab to your playgroup. Kindness is what attracts us so much to Jesus. It’s Jesus’s kindness for those who have been treated meanly, cruelly, or dismissively. [These stories] . . . remind us of Jesus. We see that seventy-year-old woman take the hand of a screaming crazy man, and we think of Jesus’s kindness to those possessed by devils. We see the football player eating lunch with an autistic boy, and we think of Jesus touching lepers. We read these stories of kindness on social media, and our hearts leap in a flash of recognition: That is exactly the sort of thing Jesus would have done.” Richard Beck
“Jesus wept.” John 11:35
Moving From Head to Heart
*Who would you have been–the cursing man, the one who backed away, the man who took the photo, the “grandma”?
*If you began practicing kindness, what would that look like?
*Can you ditch the safe, noble, spiritual ideal for the sometimes difficult but more measurable, powerful, behavioral practice? Will you do what Jesus did?
Stranger God, teach me to lean in.
For More: Stranger God by Richard Beck
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