Do you want to be truly happy?
Let me tell you a story.
One day, a plane hit a storm and was about to crash. The problem was there were 4 passengers and only 3 parachutes.
The first man took one parachute and said, “I’m a brain surgeon and my patients need me.” And he jumped off the plane.
The second man took the second parachute and said, “I’m a rocket scientist, one of the smartest men in the entire planet, and the world needs me. And he jumped off the plane.
The third man was Pope Benedict. He took the last remaining parachute and gave it to the fourth person who was a young boy. The Pope said, “Son, I’m an old man. I’ve served God enough. Go ahead and take this last parachute.”
The young boy smiled, “Your Holiness, it’s okay. There are still two parachutes left. The rocket scientist, the smartest man on the entire planet, jumped out with my backpack.”
The Pope won because he was kind.
The Rocket Scientist lost because he was not kind.
Kind people, at the end of the day, will always win.
Let me tell you another story, this time from the Bible.
I’m sure you know the tale of the Good Samaritan. But I urge you to read it again with fresh eyes. And expect God to speak to you in a new and powerful way….
Jesus answered, “There was once a man who was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when robbers attacked him, stripped him, and beat him up, leaving him half dead. It so happened that a priest was going down that road; but when he saw the man, he walked on by, on the other side. In the same way a Levite also came along, went over and looked at the man, and then walked on by, on the other side. But a Samaritan who was travelling that way came upon the man, and when he saw him, his heart was filled with pity. He went over to him, poured oil and wine on his wounds and bandaged them; then he put the man on his own animal and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Take care of him,’ he told the innkeeper, ‘and when I come back this way, I will pay you whatever else you spend on him.’ ” (Luke 10:30-35)
Three Ways To Show Kindness
As a kid, you heard this story before.
It was a nice, sweet story.
But let me tell you how controversial this is.
In the story, God gave three men a major exam.
The exam wasn’t written or oral, it was “actual”. The exam came in the form of a half-dead man, lying in the pool of his blood, in the middle of the dusty road. (You wish God gave normal exams. “Just recite the Apostles Creed, agree to every doctrine, and bingo, you’re cool.” No such thing.)
Here’s the controversy: The two guys who should have been exempted because of their sterling credentials, whom everyone expected to be board top-notchers, failed big time. But the third guy, the class nincompoop, someone no one expected to pass, didn’t only pass; He passed with flying colors. He was summa cum laude.
Here’s my message for today: If you want to bring someone closer to God, you need to be kind to them. Because the kingdom will be known by your kindness.
Here are three ways of showing kindness:
1. Be Accepting
2. Be Available
3. Be Affectionate
That’s what I’ll share with you today.
1. Be Accepting
Why did the Priest and Levite not help?
Because they weren’t accepting.
A lot of people don’t know this little fact. The Priest and the Levite didn’t help because they were afraid of being ritually unclean.
During their time, religious people lived in a world divided as Clean and the Unclean. Things are clean and unclean. Actions are clean and unclean. People are clean and unclean.
And according to their Law, anyone who touches a dead body will be “defiled” for seven days. And during this time, both the Priest and the Levite wouldn’t be able to perform their religious duties.
But the Samaritan didn’t think in this way. Because according to this world of clean and unclean, a Samaritan was already unclean. (Samaritans were half-breed Jews who were looked down upon.) According to them, he was, by birth, already ceremonially defiled.
In other words, it was the “unclean” man who helped another unclean man.
Here’s my point.
After 32 years of ministry, I’ve realized that the best people who represent God in this world aren’t the most intelligent, the most eloquent, or the most gifted. The best representatives of God are the kindest and most humble people.
Those who know they’re not perfect.
Those who deeply respect people, no matter what they have done in the past.
Those who don’t have an air of spiritual superiority and religious arrogance.
But Alas, Christians Today
Are Seen As Arrogant People
Let me share with you some sad news.
A huge survey was done among young people ages 16 to 29 in America. They were asked what they thought of Christianity.
Here are the results: 87% of them said that Christianity was judgmental. And 85% said Christianity was hypocritical. And one out of four non-Christians said that modern day Christians were no longer like Jesus.
Mahatma Gandhi said the same thing many years ago. He said, “I like your Christ but I dislike your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.”
Why? Rick Warren explained it this way: “Christians are more known for what we are against than what we are for.”
In other words, we love to tell people what’s wrong with them. We do that to our kids. We do that to our spouses. And we do that to our unchurched friends.
If you’re a religious person, everyone instantly knows what you’re against. You’re against abortion and homosexuality and premarital sex and pornography and gambling and drunkenness…
That’s okay. But here’s my big question: Are you known for your kindness?
I give talks on parenting. I tell parents that correcting their kids without building a strong relationship with them will never work. It’s useless. If this is true of parenting, how much more with our unchurched friends?
If you want to bring people closer to God, you need to meet them at their level, speak their language, meet their concerns, and address their needs.
Is Your God Cruel?
When tragedies strike our planet, two types of religious people surface.
The first type is the religious person who rushes in and serves. The second type is the religious person who rushes in and shames.
The first one gives, helps, and cares.
The second one condemns, criticizes, and judges.
When Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991, devastating Zambales and Pampanga, I heard some religious people say, “God is punishing the areas of Olongapo and Angeles, both American camps, because of the many prostitutes in those areas.”
When a tsunami hit Phuket beach, Thailand, on December 26, 2004, I heard some religious people say, “That’s what those vacationers deserve for cavorting and partying on Christmas Day, instead of praying and attending church!”
And when the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan on March 11, 2011, I heard some religious people say, “That disaster happened because Japan is a godless nation. Because 90% of Japanese are atheists…”
And so cruel.
Religious people who worship a cruel god become cruel too.
We always become like the god that we worship.
My next example is even more tragic.
A Very Sad Story
One day, a man was writing to his parents a very difficult letter.
It was a very difficult letter because he had not been in touch with them for twelve long years.
The last time they talked was the day he told them that he was choosing the homosexual life. His parents told him that he was committing sin and that he was going to Hell. They asked him to pack his bags and never come back.
That day, he left home and lived life on his own terms.
Twelve years later, he was writing a letter of reconciliation to them. He was telling them that he had AIDS. He said that his days were numbered. He asked if they could see each other one last time before he died.
One week later, the man received mail from his parents.
Excited, he opened the envelope.
And out fell small pieces of torn paper.
It was his birth certificate.
Plus a short note from Mom and Dad.
It read, “We do not know you. We do not have a son who is an abomination to God. From that day you walked out of God’s will, we no longer have a son.”
The young man wept.
A few days later, he died.
Here’s the irony of this story.
Do you know who helped him during his dying days?
His neighbors. His officemates. His old friends.
People who weren’t Christians.
Where were the religious people? Busy condemning. Busy protecting themselves from defilement.
So different from the next story I’ll share with you.
An Example Of Great Kindness
Celia (not her real name) got pregnant out of wedlock. And her boyfriend abandoned her.
At that time, Celia was a lost soul. She was far from God. She actually didn’t care if He existed or not. But something in her drove her to search for Him.
She learned that there was this small prayer group near her house. But she wondered if they would accept her.
In the entrance, a friendly woman welcomed her and said, “Welcome! Where’s your husband?”
Celia groaned. She braced herself for the rejection. She said, “I don’t have a husband.”
But the rejection didn’t come. The woman hugged her and said, “We welcome you and your baby!”
She led her to the prayer meeting.
The first thing Celia noticed was that they were old women! “Oh no, what have I gotten myself into?” she thought to herself.
She told the leader, “I don’t believe in God.” And she answered, “It’s okay. We love you!”
For some reason, she kept attending that prayer meeting. It was their kindness that drew her back.
And during those prayer meetings, there was this old woman who would call Celia to sit by her side. When she did, the grandmother would press a small plastic bag of coins to her hand. “I saved this for your baby,” she’d whisper.
Celia was moved. This woman was poor. Yet she would save money for her.
A few weeks later, they threw a baby shower for her.
When Celia finally gave birth, it was a big celebration. And her baby was the prayer group’s baby. In each prayer meeting, the old woman would take turns carrying the baby.
Many years later, Celia became a preacher.
How did an agnostic, a lost soul, become a preacher?
It all started in a small prayer group of old women who showed her the kindness of God.
Why The Feast Accepts Everyone
Each week, I preach at the Feast, the main gathering of the Light of Jesus Family.
And in the Feast, we accept the sinners. Prostitutes. Adulterers. Addicts. Anyone!
Why? Because I was an addict for many years. I couldn’t control my urges. Yes, I was a great sinner (I still am). But God was kind to me. He accepted me. He forgave me. He loved me.
So how can I not accept others with the same kindness too?
The Feast is not for holy people. It’s for sinners.
The Feast is not for insiders. It’s for outsiders.
The Feast is not a museum of perfect people. The Feast is a hospital for the sick and the weak.
Because God is our healer!
When You’re Aware Of Your Weaknesses,
You’ll Be More Accepting
One day, a man had some puppies to sell. He even put a large sign in front of his house, “Puppies For Sale—P5000 only.”
One morning, as the man got out to pick up the newspaper, he saw a little boy looking at the sign.
He asked, “What do you want?”
“I want to buy a puppy,” he said. He then pulled out his little hand from his pocket and opened his palm.
On it were a few coins.
The man said, “I don’t think you have enough money.”
The little boy said, “Will this be enough just to take a look at the puppies?”
The man said, “Sure.”
He whistled and called out, “Here Dolly!” And out came Dolly from the doghouse. And following Dolly were the pups, like 4 balls of fur, running after their mother.
The little boy pressed his face on the fence, his eyes bulging, filled with joy.
And that was when he noticed something still moving in the doghouse.
A little puppy came out, much smaller, much slower.
It limped its way to its mother.
“I want that one,” said the little boy.
The man knelt down in front of the boy and said, “Son, you don’t want that dog. He was born with a short leg. He won’t be able to run with you or play with you.”
The little took one step backward, bent down, and rolled up the leg of his blue jeans.
The man was surprised to see a steel brace on the little boy’s leg. It started above his knee all the way down and attached to a specially made shoe.
“I don’t run too well, sir,” the boy said, “and the dog needs someone who can understand him.”
What’s Your Limp?
I’ve got news for you: All of us are like that little puppy. Because all of us have a limp. We just have different kinds of limps.
What’s your limp? Accept it.
Unless you do, you won’t be able to accept the limp of others. You’ll always be judging, condemning, looking down, being irritated by the weaknesses of others.
Let me briefly look at two other qualities of kindness.
2. Be Available
The Samaritan had lots of things to do.
In fact, Jesus deliberately included that snippet—where the Samaritan had to go somewhere and so delegated the wounded man to the innkeeper.
To tell us that the guy was busy.
But despite this, he went out of his way. He welcomed this interruption. Why?
To show kindness.
God is calling you to go out of our way, break your itinerary, welcome this interruption, and show kindness to those who are along your path.
You need to get out of your religious ghetto. Start building relationships with people who aren’t religious.
Build Relationships Outside Your Church
St. Augustine said Christians are like fertilizer.
If you spread it out in a vast track of land, it’s wonderful. It will nourish the crops. But if you keep it in a barn, all bunched up together, it will smell really bad, or worse, explode. Because fertilizer is very combustible.
That’s what happens to Christian groups who never welcome non-members. They become a smelly group. And they start fighting each other. They begin to nitpick, holding microscopes in their hands, analyzing each other’s little mistakes and magnifying them.
Welcome outsiders in your friendships.
And one more thing…
3. Be Affectionate
Jesus said, But a Samaritan who was travelling that way came upon the man, and when he saw him, his heart was filled with pity.
Do you have compassion for those suffering around you?
If you do, that is a great and special gift from God.
There are people whose hearts are calloused.
Today, as you walk in the world, there are many wounded people around you. I want you to open your eyes and see their wounds and feel their pain.
One day, a woman told me, “But Bo, I don’t want to! I have enough problems of my own. I don’t want to take the problems of others!”
Ah, but do you remember what Jesus said about the Samaritan? He went over to him, poured oil and wine on his wounds and bandaged them.
Tell me. Do you think this Samaritan was bringing a First Aid kit in his knapsack?
I don’t think so. Here’s what happened. He tore his own clothes to bandage the man.
Here’s what I’ve realized: Kindness is costly!
Kindness is painful.
When you’re kind to others, you’ll lose something. You’ll lose time. You’ll lose money. You’ll lose your agenda. You’ll lose your convenience. You’ll lose your comfort. Yes, you’ll be tearing off your nice clothes to bandage someone’s wounds.
Are you ready to be kind?
And this is your great reward: The Kingdom will be known by your kindness. God will be known by your goodness. And the Lord will be known by your love.
Let me end with one last story.
A modern version of the Good Samaritan story.
One day, a man was travelling on a road.
And it was getting dark.
Suddenly, not seeing that there was a pit, he fell. It was such a deep pit that he couldn’t get out. He began to cry for help.
A priest passed by and saw the man in the pit. He shouted to him, “If you get out of the pit, I’ll teach you how not to fall into it again.” And he walked away.
After awhile, a preacher passed by and saw the man in the pit. And he shouted at him, “If you listened to me, you would not have fallen into that pit.” And he walked away.
After awhile, a pastor passed by and saw the man in the pit. And he said, “If you can reach for my hand, I’ll pull you out of that pit.” He bent over and reached out, but the man in the pit could not reach his hand.” And he too walked away.
And then Jesus walked by. Without a word, he jumped into the pit, and pushed the man out.
That is what Jesus did on the cross.
He took our place.
In the story of the Good Samaritan, the wounded man didn’t need someone to preach to him about God, or someone to debate with him about the right doctrine, or someone to teach him what’s morally right or wrong.
Instead, he needed someone to clean his wounds (yuk!), carry him to an inn (woe!), and pay for his food and accommodations (Oh no!).
He didn’t need a priest or a preacher.
He needed a kind person.
He needed a servant.
And that’s what the wounded world is looking for.
The Bible says, You are the people of God; he loved you and chose you for his own. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. (Colossians 3:12)
Are you known for your compassion?
I believe that’ll be how the wounded world will come to know the real Jesus.
May your dreams come true,