When we talk about kindness then we’re talking about more than being nice to some people. Kindness is one of those qualities found in God; God is kindness. Therefore, true kindness is a gift from God, it is the fruit of God at work in our lives through his Sprit. What does this Godly kindness look like?
If we believe in a rule-based system, then these rules only serve to condemn us. They don’t show how good we’ve been, they only highlight our failures. Rules, or the law, can only condemn. John tells us that it was because of God’s love that he sent his Son into the world not to condemn it but to save it through him. This salvation is not earned but freely given through faith in Jesus Christ… ‘that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ (John 3:16)
Suffering is just as much a part of the Christian life as the promise of new life. Jesus himself had to endure suffering to pass into new life. We do well not to forget the cross came before the resurrection. But there is a resurrection, there is an end; but as James tells us we must first endure and persevere.
It’s among these dry bones, in the dark tunnel, during the hopelessness, darkness; in the midst of the sin in our lives that eats us up inside that God said this to Ezekiel, and please to anyone who feels like this, listen carefully. ‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a new heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.’ (Ezekiel 36:24-27)
Last week we talked about how Jesus expected his church to care for the sick, visit those in prison and feed the hungry. The role of the shepherd was to point to how the spiritual life of Jerusalem, how corporate and individual worship had gone astray. Idols, greed, lack of adherence to the law of God – the shepherd was to draw the people back to God and away from those things that would only bring harm. They failed in every respect.
No matter who we are, regardless if we are part of God’s church or his people, God is concerned about how we treat one another – especially his people and those who depend on God as their defender and shield. The nations Ezekiel prophesied against took advantage of Israel’s predicament – the Babylonian exile. They gloated over Israel’s fall; rejoiced in their misery; rushed to betray them.
As we look around our world and ask the question where is God in all of this? I wonder is God asking us in return, never mind where I am – where are you in all of this? Is the God you are looking for the God of scripture or some other god we’ve imagined or would like to be real. A god who’s always there for us, who does what we ask of him but in reality, leaves us alone the rest of the time allowing us to live our lives however we want and is actually quite happy with this arrangement. This is not the god of scripture
Today is our first Sunday back in Moneydig Church. I wonder how do we feel about this? How do we see or understand the fact we’re back? Is it an opportunity, a second chance or simply the continuation of what has always been?