As parents, we teach our children to always be nice to their friends and neighbors. We read books to them about being nice, sharing, and helping others. We read them the 'Golden Rule' from the Bible, "Do unto others as you would have them do to you." We go out of our way to correct them when they are not nice to others. We do these things as parents, because we care about our children and want things to go well with them in life. So my question is, do you think that Father God is going to tell His children, through a minister, that He doesn't want them to be nice to others?!!!!
I left my former church a few months ago and I'm still dealing with certain things. You may say, "Why do you even care what they say or what goes on there?" The truth is, I don't care what goes on, but I do still have a few friends who attend the church that will still speak to me and I know others who still have friends there as well. It seems that people are being told not to be nice to those who have left the church. I know this has gone on for a long time, but it's being talked about now like never before. Things are being said like, "Don't be nice to those who leave your church and don't even go out to dinner with them. You can be kind, but there is a difference between being nice and being kind." WHAT? I looked up the words nice and kind in the dictionary and you know what, they mean the same thing. I just can't believe it has come to this! Even worse, fear is being used to drive their point home! I can only hope that my friends won't listen to what is being said.
I have another question. What is this message going to teach the children who are there? I guess the parents might as well give up on teaching their children to be nice and kind to others, because when they go to church they will hear the opposite. I have seen some hurt children and teenagers who were "cut off" from their friends when they didn't even do anything wrong. How can this be justified in the mind of anyone, especially a Christian? I would think anyone could see that when someone tells you not to be nice to others, it goes directly against the Bible! Am I missing something? If there really is a difference in being nice and being kind, please fill me in.
While reading my new book, "The God's Honest Truth," I came across a statement today that really made me stop and think about all of this. Darin Hufford said, "Unkindness has almost become the norm of our society, and many of us have grown accustomed to its foul presence." You would expect this in the world to some degree, but not in the church. However, I think you will find that in many controlling churches, people have forgotten what kindness looks like.
One Sunday, a while back, we took a visitor to church with us. He accidentally opened the wrong door and was quickly reprimanded. It embarrassed him and he had a hard time even listening during the service. Afterwards he said, "I thought this was a church." Being treated like that did not make him want to come running back. He wanted to go to a place where people would be nice to him. I have found that many people in the business world are even nicer than some church leaders. This just should not be! Church leaders should understand that there are all types of people who will come into the church and they can't all be expected to be spiritual giants. And yet, in many cases, if people don't act perfect they are looked down on. Believe me, they take notice of what is going on and how they are treated. Guess what, the old saying, "Christians are under a microscope," is true! When Christians act in certain ways, such as being rude or not speaking to a fellow Christian, it doesn't make the world want to run to the altar to receive what they have. Can you imagine what a visitor would think if he came into a church and heard a minister telling the people not to be nice and not to go out to eat with their friends? He would run for his life! Why do some not see how far away from normal this is?
God makes it very clear that what really matters to Him is love. There's going to have to be a turn around and kindness is going to have to become the norm again. We have got to portray a clear picture of who God is. He is the kindest One of all and the very fact that He lives inside of us tells me that we can be kind to all. We must let the love of God flow from our hearts, be a light to the world, and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Then and only then are people going to want what we have. And it's not just the world that we need to be nice to, there are many hurting Christians who have been hurt by controlling churches that need to see once again that their are kind Christians who will love them.
Darin also says, "The great counterfeit of kindness is manipulation." I thought that was a very interesting statement, but I as read more I understood what he was saying and it's so true. When people do nice things with the motive to get you to do something for them in return, it is not kindness, it's manipulation. This is commonplace in controlling churches and it hurts people when they find out that they were only treated in a nice way because someone wanted something from them. But true kindness is something you give with no strings attached! Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit and it defines the character of God. Kindness is the love of God in action. When we are kind, we are acting like God. The opposite is true as well, when people are not nice and kind, they are not acting like God. He is kind even when others aren't. He is kind, no matter what, and that is how He wants us to be. Listen to what God says......
"Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face Him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. If someone says, "I love God," but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don't love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? And He has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters." (I John 4:7,11,17 &20)
"Kindness overrules anger, rage, depression, hopelessness, gossip, envy, strife, and just about any other terrible thing. There is a power in kindness that resists anything thrown its way. It topples over strongholds and crushes addictions. It changes the mind of stubborn people and deflates the pride of humanity. Kindness is more powerful than anything the flesh manifests. Nothing can stand up to it and everything turns into dust in its presence." - Darin Hufford