When heaven comes crashing onto earth and the age-to-come begins in all its fulness there’s one of its qualities that I’m gagging for at the moment: kindness.
Oh I know there’s talk about how it will be one great big worship service on that last day that begins the new days.
And I know from the more theologically rigorous types that in some ways heaven will be a redeemed continuum of life in this age, with work and travel and leisure to be done.
Oh, and of course I want to see a creation that is whole and perfect and ecologically sound. I want the trees and animals treated right.
And perfection and the absence of death? We all want that hey?
But let’s not allow that to overlook the one thing that seems to be draining away in our harsh, hard modern age at the moment: kindness.
You heard it here: Heaven will be kind!
We read the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians and we’re quick to pick up on the evidence of God’s work that most resonates with us at the moment. Self-control seems to get a good going over these days. Patience as well. And goodness me, what about goodness! It’s a bad world.
But kindness! Kindness! Roll that word around your mouth for a moment. The world is so unkind.
A key aspect of anyone who is born of the Spirit, (and remember that the presence of His Spirit is God’s gift to us in this age, as a downpayment of the age-to-come) is kindness.
And boy is that lacking! I have shed tears this week over two extreme acts of unkindness. First a young indigenous boy, Quaden Bayles, who has dwarfism, and who is completely suicidal, and in complete despair, because of the unkindness of those who bullied him in school.
I’m no intersectionality champion, but please! I wept watching that video. Tears of sadness, but of anger too. Where is the kindness?
And then the utter despair of a bullying husband who immolates his entire family in their car, in a fit of subhuman rage. And all of that on a Brisbane suburban street, where horrified onlookers can only shriek in despair. If he can’t have them, no one can. He makes sure of that.
My wife, who has worked in a maximum security prison with men who have done the same sorts of things, tells me that still, even there in the bottomed-out pit of reality, and segregated from other prisoners for their own safety, such men are still unkind.
Oh for some kindness! And that’s not even mentioning the casual Twitter rage and scorn and bullying that dominates our internet age.
And all that off the back of my past two weeks in which, despite the public face of a bullying scandal in the evangelical church, the private face of that scandal brought me to tears.
Facebook private messages, emails, Skype sessions, from those whose names will never be made public, but who were scorched by “unkindness”. And make no mistake, that word was used a lot. The lack of kindness crushed people. And all for what?
And I would despair completely in the midst of all this unkindness, if I did not read these words in Ps63:
Because your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise you.
And yes, I know, I know, it’s technically to do with God’s covenantal faithfulness to His people Israel. But perhaps that’s it. If we all showed covenantal faithfulness to people, then kindness would be a clear evidence of it, right?
So yes, I wanna get to the age-to-come and join the great praising sing-along around the throne of the Lamb.
And sure, I want my work to be without the frustration that was written into it after human rebellion wrecked our plans. And of course I want a renewed created order outside of humanity that just works and that we don’t wreck.
But at the moment, the way I am feeling, I am gagging for the kindness of the age-to-come. And it won’t be a kind place because of any other reason than the King of Kindness will be ruling it.
The One who the Old Testament tells us won’t break a bruised reed or snuff out a smouldering wick. The One who in the New Testament is revealed in the kindest human to ever walk the planet, the Lord Jesus.
Jesus who just had that way of being a safe place for people who had experienced unkindness. True holiness is kind! That’s why it’s part of the Holy Spirit’s fruit.
And on that day, in that new age, God’s personal kindness towards us will be personified by this kind act:
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.(Rev 21:4)
God won’t say: “Will one of the angels get a Kleenex and head down to row three million and five and wipe away the tear from the eye of worshipper 3376459?”
No, God will come down that row, walk up to you and go “There, there, don’t cry. It’s okay now.”
Our King is kind from beginning to end. Then kind from the new beginning that will never end.