I realized something today: Practicing a Christ-like genourosity is harder than it looks. I’d go so far as to suggest that we Christians have perfected a sort-of genourosity which is not very Christ-like at all.
I’m not saying that we aren’t genorous, on the whole. I have been the recipient of incredible acts of kindness. I am watching a sister in Christ walk through a difficult time, right now. And there are people who want to help her. But they aren’t helping her in a way that Jesus would, I think. When I look back at my own acts of kindness, I realize that these, too, are not the sorts of things that Jesus would have done.
As I look at Jesus’ acts of kindness, one of the things I notice is that they are reckless. When the women is about to get stoned, Jesus does not first establish a behavioral contract with her before he decides if he’ll intervene. He doesn’t make her rescue dependent on her sinning no more. He steps in, stops the killing before it starts, and sends her off with the expectation that she will sin no more.
There is something legitimate about not wanting to enable destructive behavior. We are told be wise as serpents. But is our only motivation wanting to do good?
Jesus heals people and tells them to keep a secret. They don’t. But Jesus does not un-doing the healing just because they don’t hold up their end of the bargain. I suspect that most of us would. We would tell everyone that this would be loving the person, helping them to learn that they should keep their word. And maybe this would be half the truth.
But the other half is that we don’t want to recognize our powerlessness in these situations. We buy into the world’s way of looking at things. We think an action is only good if it has a good result. We think our kindness is somehow canceled out if the other person doesn’t use it for maximum benefit.
If a thing comes with strings attached, we feel that we’ve legitimately purchased that thing. There’s some sort-of paralell to grace itself in all this. If grace was something that was we could earn, then the whole of life would be nothing but a transaction, a barter.
I don’t know how to live my life fully immersed in the vastness of this truth. It would change many things in my place of work and my family and my life elsewhere…