I have recently started getting articles from Stumbleupon again. For those of you who don’t also do this, Stumbleupon is a web site that searches for unusual things on the Web that you might have missed and assists you in “stumbling upon” them. Unlike other aggregators like Alltop, it’s a largely random and uncategorized experience that is delivered to your e-mail box
Recently, they led me to this article, which concerns a pizza delivery guy (Jeff Louis) who made a delivery to a church in Mentor, Ohio. According to the article, the pastor had a good idea that, since it is the Christmas season, they should try to tip the delivery man $100 as a means of celebrating the holiday season. Amazingly, when Jeff delivered the pizza, the congregation collected a tip and gave him over $700. Jeff was so taken aback by this seemingly random act of generosity that he went on YouTube and posted an emotional message about it that has been seen by over 14,000 people. We don’t know what will ultimately come of this act of kindness. Jeff has gone through some tough times lately and has been really working hard to get his life back, and this gift should go a long way toward helping him, so his testimony is extremely heartfelt.
In the face of that, what more can one say, other than there is an important lesson here? A random act of generosity by a group of believers changed someone’s life, and as the story spreads, it may have the potential to affect other lives. This is the kind of thing that we would like to be able to expect from the living out of our faith. We are pretty unlikely to take a grand action that changes the hearts and minds of our society in one fell swoop. We’re not even likely to take a series of actions that do that. But we can do little things, even as a part of our celebrations, which touch one or two people and then ripple out to touch others.
But why take a chance? Why not actively look for places where we can commit isolated acts of kindness that have no specific outcome in mind, other than to be kind and trust God to work through them? What would it take to spend our time looking to build people up instead of gaining some sort of advantage over them? How can we make sure that we don’t turn our heads away from people in obvious need, or fail to even be basically kind whenever possible? At some point, it is going to take intentionality. We all need to make a firm commitment to not just being kinder to everyone, but also to look for ways to do kind things.
And all this strikes as an axiomatic Christmas story. We expect to hear stories of goodness and its impact at this time of year, but if we can get intentional about it, it does not have to stop here. We live in a world that seems increasingly angry and fearful, and it pulls at us to respond in kind, but is that the right way to deal with such things? Maybe the answer to our problems has been right in front of us all along.