Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Kindness Of God

It is a good thing when we prepare to come to the Lord's table that we take a moment to reflect on the character of the God who has set the table before us.

We often times have a really difficult time seeing the world clearly. Actually, the problem is worse. We usually get everything backwards. We emphasize what ought not to be emphasized. We identify problems where there really aren't any and miss the real issues. We do this because we still look at the world through eyes affected by sin. We do this because we lack eyes of faith. We do this because perfect clarity will only come when we can finally look back on the world from the perspective only the finish line provides.

So seeing life properly takes some shaking off the faithless scales of the flesh. And when we do, suddenly we realize just how backwards we've been. We see this in our doubts about God's existence. In our pride we look around at this world and we suggest that God should provide just a bit more evidence for his existence. The irony is that the problem is NOT that there is not enough evidence for His existence, quite the contrary, the problem is that He's provided far too much evidence. We get so used to the marks of his artistry popping up everywhere that we seem to think they are nowhere. Instead of being floored by the marvelous complexity of the human eye, instead of falling to our knees each time a sunset paints the sky, instead of the beauty of a rose (or even better a rose garden) causing us to cry out in worship, we look over all of this and cry out for evidence. The evidence confronts us in every moment and every crevice of our lives. In the tiniest details and those painted
large across the cosmos. But our sinful senses are in fact overwhelmed and we suffer a short circuit. And we respond dumbly ... I don't see it.

But our spiritual astigmatism is not limited to His existence. We have this same problem when we look for God's kindness. We turn it into a SEARCH, as if his kindness was somehow difficult to find. The fact is that God's kindness is everywhere. Our God loves to give. Our God loves to say YES! We see this in the first few pages of our Bible. When God plants the garden and places Adam and eve in the middle of it he concludes the generous giving of this gift with a single prohibition, a single "no." And yet we get all tangled up in this one "no" and it sounds to our rebellious ears as if "No" was the only word spoken. Why? Because we are sinners, and in our self centered pride we forget that that single "no" was given in the context of a universe of "yes'!" That's no exaggeration. Everything in the whole universe was a "yes." It was all in-bounds. And yet we look at this generous God and we make Him out to be a miser because he kept one thing back from us.

We experience that same phenomenon in our daily lives. We look around searching for evidence of his kindness and our myopic little eyes gloss over what is all around us. We can't see the single tree of God's kindness for the sheer volume of trees in this lush rainforest of  God's goodness! His kindness really is everywhere. He gave us taste buds. He didn't have to do that. He gives us good things to tickle our taste buds. He doesn't have to do that either. He paints a glorious picture every morning and and in his eagerness does it again every evening as we see the sun rise and then set. We walk outside on a spring day and the smells of sweet citrus blossoms, fresh cut grass, and a clean wind sweep over us. But we don't notice His kindness. The cry of a new born baby. A well told joke. An unexpected letter from a friend. Clean and abundant drinking water. Countless stars and galaxies that greet us each night. The beauty of a snowflake and the sheer abundance of them. We miss the kindness and generosity of God, not because it is not there to be seen; not because God is so stingy with it. We miss his kindness and his goodness precisely because there is so much of it we are surrounded by it. His kindness is so common that we miss it.

Of course, we can only see this through eyes of faith. The eyes of unbelief are unwilling and therefore unable to see the gratuitous goodness of God. But because of God's undeserved mercy, we by his grace have been granted eyes capable of opening far enough to begin to comprehend just how praiseworthy He is. Just how good He is. Just how kind He is.

And it is this kind God who chose to lavishly and sacrificially demonstrate this excessive kindness by sending His own son to pay the penalty for a bunch of sinners who not only didn't deserve his kindness but didn't even want it, and who would still have trouble even seeing it. The cross of Christ is indeed foolishness to those who are perishing. But to us, who have been saved, it is the pinnacle of an unbelievable kindness shown to us by an equally unbelievable God.

Jesus told us that when we sit down to this fellowship meal that we remember his death until he comes. But we miss the whole point if as we remember, we forget that in part what we are remembering is in fact just how kind our God is.

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