This morning started out like most Saturday mornings at the Bohlender house. Pancakes. Strong coffee. Children. I was flipping pancakes while watching last night's newscast on iTunes (if you don't watch the news until the next morning, it's still news to you...), when I heard a teaser for an upcoming story: "One man pays for the drink for the person behind him at the Starbucks drive through, and sets in motion a ripple of kindness that lasts all day - more from Florida in a minute."
Kelsey and I laughed thinking our friend, Steve - the kindness guru - was probably causing trouble in Tampa. We eagerly stopped our pancake flipping when the story came on. Turns out it wasn't in Tampa, and it wasn't Steve. Just like the teaser said, some guy driving through the line payed for the coffee of the person behind him. We have done stuff like this for years under the banner of Kindness Outreach - showing people God loved them in a practical way. I have preached it, taught it, modeled and extolled the virtues of it - that simple, intentional acts of kindness open peoples' hearts to change.
The newscaster interviewed the guy. It's not Steve. It's not a church planter. It's a Buddhist guy - Arthur Rosenfeld - who, in this original story, insists that it wasn't a random act of kindness he was doing either - it was a change of consciousness.
Gang, I love using kindness to open the door to a God encounter with people....but more than ever, I am aware of the fact that kindness in itself is not as profound as we wish it were. In fact, genuine kindness is espoused by most religious systems of the world. While it can be used as a conversation starter, short of a demonstration of power, we are simply lumped in with the kind Buddhist, the kind Krishna, the kind Mitt Romney next door.
That is disconcerting.
Lest you expect otherwise, my shadow is not raising the dead. I am not seeing daily miracles or giving powerful words to people in the line at Target....but neither am I simply settling for my expressed good intentions to fulfill people's deepest needs either.
God make us kind...and God give us power.