Similar to the love of God, the kindness of God is an idea treated pretty cheaply and taken for granted in our society. And I think that’s because the picture of reality that most of us have been painted (or that we’ve painted ourselves) when it comes to our relationship to God is quite disproportionate. Man is portrayed to be far less evil than he actually is while God is portrayed to be far more apathetic about our sin than he actually is. Man is set forth as the central character of the universe and God is hidden off in the corner like some sort of celestial butler, anxiously awaiting every ring of man’s beckoning bell.
But our picture is wrong. Oh, so wrong.
Let me be clear, God is love and God is kind. The Lord cares for us deeply and yearns to bless us. But alongside his love for us, he also experiences an array of other emotions – emotions provoked by our sin – besides the fluffy feel-goodness we assume his heart it is restricted to. God is not some robotic entity that functions solely on a must-always-be-nice-to-humans operating system. He feels disappointment. He feels anger. He feels wrath. And without the gospel as a protective shield over us, he righteously feels these things when he looks at you and me.
I’m really not trying to be a Debbie Downer here, but I think it’s absolutely necessary when pondering on the kindness of God to remember that we, mankind, are a stupendously wicked race. Since the outset of human history when our first father sunk his teeth into the fruit of death, we have not only rebelled against God but have made a massive showing of that rebellion. All the days of our lives – prior to our new birth in Christ, if we’re a believer – we’ve gleefully paraded about in our sins before the eyes of our Lord and Creator. Like stingy children we’ve held tightly to our iniquity and scowled at the One who demands us lay it down for something better – namely, himself. With treacherous hearts we’ve fled from divine goodness and mercy and into the arms of our prides and lusts. God owes us nothing except the just penalty for our cosmic crimes against him. The Bible is clear that his wrath against sin burns within him. His good justice demands that our crimes be punished.
But the good – no, the incredible – news for us is that God has contrived a way to satisfy his justice that not only diverts judgment away from us, but also ushers in a torrential showering of his goodness and mercy on us for eternity. The Cross of Jesus Christ is this way. In his unfathomable kindness, God the Son offered himself up as a once-for-all sacrifice for our sin. Rather than justly ripping us to shreds, Jesus allowed God’s wrath for our sin to rip him to shreds. This is kindness.
The glory of the gospel isn’t that God is kind to us because he is a robotic nice-guy that turns a trivial, blind eye to our sins. The glory of the gospel is that God is kind to us because he chooses to be despite our unworthiness. The radiance of God’s goodness toward us shines most brightly when we envision it against the backdrop of our utter unworthiness of even a drop of his kindness. We have all at one point been haters of God with an insatiable appetite for all that he despises, yet 2,000 years ago we see his bloodied Son hanging on a Roman Cross . . . in our place. This is kindness.
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy…” – Titus 3:4-5
Christians, as ambassadors of this kind, crucified God, how unquestionably clear is it that we are to be people of unfathomable kindness? Yet this is so often what I don’t see, both in myself and in the lives of believers around me. On a near daily basis I see believers on social media retaliating against “the liberals” and making mean-spirited comments about those they view to be their enemies. As election season approaches and as we creep on the SCOTUS ruling on Gay Marriage later this month, I anticipate this warfare will only intensify. But is this the way of Christ? Is this the way that God has interacted with us? Is this fruit of the Spirit? No, it is not! I’m not saying that silence over the controversial issues in our culture is the route to take – I wouldn’t have this blog if I believed that. But I do believe there’s a way to interact with those who disagree with us that resembles the loving-kindness of our Savior. God has gone above and beyond the mountains of our sin to shower his kindness on us in Jesus, and he has given us his Spirit so that we would mimic his kind, glorious character to those around us.
As Romans 2:4 tells us, it is the kindness of God that leads men to repentance. Though the fear of God is a necessary and healthy thing to possess, it is not what leads men to true, saving repentance. Though remorse over sin is a necessary and healthy thing to possess, it is not what leads men to true, saving repentance. It is the kindness of God that leads men to repentance . . . and I would add that it is through the Spirit-wrought kindness of Christians that unbelieving people will be drawn to saving kindness of God.