Scripture: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)When you were growing up, did you learn to ride a bicycle? Most kids do, but some, like me, don’t. A big, tall kid on a bike can look a lot like a gorilla on a tricycle! But, I am told, that there is a freedom that you feel riding on a bike that is unlike any other. When the wind starts blowing through your hair and you are clipping along on two wheels, all feels right with the world.
Maybe, that’s one big reason why bikes have sold so well during the pandemic. Many people are wanting that feeling of freedom and simple joy that a bike can bring. Perhaps one of the real learning opportunities for all of us as we go through these strange and uncertain times is how much a few simple things can mean to us. Riding a bike can make your day. So too can taking a walk and paying attention to nature around you. Add to that list a good conversation with an old friend. Or something as basic as being kind to one another.
It is, in fact, no small thing to be kind toward other people. I heard a speaker this week talking about how the world of “convergence” has given way to the world of “divergence.” In a world of “convergence,” there is general agreement about what is right and most people try to live that way. By contrast, in a world of “divergence,” there are many competing versions of what is right and people are divided against one another. In such a world, kindnesses and forgiveness, such as Paul emphasizes, are cast aside in favor of ‘winning at all costs’ or a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude.
Sure, it is easy to be nostalgic about the way we used to know our neighbors in a good way and how communities pulled together to get through a crisis. But, isn’t there some truth to the idea that those basic human characteristics we call ‘kindness’ and ‘forgiveness’ were more generally practiced in the past than today? If that statement is even partially true, what would it take to bring back those simple but important practices into these times? Perhaps, it is as simple as riding a bike – once you learn how, you never forget.
At least, that’s what those who know how tell me.
Prayer: Most gracious God, help us to be kind and forgiving to one another; not because we are told to, but because we know it is the right way to live.
In Jesus’ strong name we pray. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Gary S. Eller
President, Omaha Presbyterian Seminary Foundation