Monday, March 28, 2011

"Kindness & Goodness" - My Article in the Soutside Messenger

Spirit & Truth # 220
“Fruity Christians:  Kindness & Goodness”
By Rev. Greg Smith
A Portrait of John Mark

            In the musical play Les Misérables, set in nineteenth century France, Jean Valjean serves twenty years for stealing a loaf of bread and for repeated escape attempts.  When he is finally released on permanent parole, nobody will hire him.  He receives the hospitality of the bishop, Monseigneur Bienvenue, and repays the bishop’s kindness by stealing his silver and running.  When Valjean is caught, the police return him to the bishop, saying that the fugitive claimed that the silver had been given as a gift.  To his surprise, the bishop tells the police that it had indeed been a gift.  In fact, Bienvenue says Valjean forgot to take the most precious silver, and adds his own candlesticks to Valjean’s take.  The bishop tells Valjean, “Remember this, my brother.  See in this some higher plan.  You must use this precious silver to become an honest man.  By the witness of the martyrs, by the passion and the blood, God has raised you out of darkness: I have bought your soul for God.”   When we next meet Valjean, he has indeed become an honest man—one whose kindness and goodness have improved the lives of an entire town.  One act of kindness can change not only one person’s life—but many people’s lives forever.
            Acts 15:37-41 is the story of one such act of kindness.  Paul and Barnabas were about to embark on another missionary journey.  Barnabas wanted to take his younger cousin John Mark along on the trip, but Paul refused.  The young man had abandoned the mission during a previous mission trip, and Paul didn’t want to risk taking him again.  The dispute between Paul and Barnabas was so sharp that they parted company.  Paul took Silas and went through Syria and Cilicia, while Barnabas took John Mark to Cyprus on a separate mission. 
In the end, this parting actually resulted in doubling the missionary effort.  But Barnabas’ kind insistence on including John Mark resulted in much more.  Later, the young evangelist would become the companion of the apostle Peter.  From Peter’s accounts, Mark wrote the Gospel that would bear his name.  He would also become the founder of the church in Alexandria.  Just think of how many thousands of people came to faith because of the work of John Mark—and all because Barnabas, the Son of Encouragement, gave him a second chance.
Where Paul could only see the past, Barnabas could see Mark’s future potential.  Where Paul could only see a traitor, Barnabas could only see family.  Who is the John Mark in your life?  Who has abandoned you, or become a traitor in your eyes?  The fruit of the Holy Spirit is kindness and goodness, working forgiveness in your heart that will result in restoration and blessing.  What do you see when you look into the eyes of your John Mark?  I pray that you might find the goodness inside them, that you might show them the kindness of God, and that the result would be lives that are forever changed.

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