If you have kids, you know it’s not always easy to get them to sit down at the table and eat—especially when you have to pull their video games away from them first. Such was the case on one summer night when I couldn’t get my almost-3-year-old to put down the Wii U gamepad and join us at the table.
The whole ordeal resulted in a time-out. Well, several time-outs actually. He kept acting out and finding himself sitting back on the living room step. He was frustrated, I was frustrated, and an already bad dinner was getting worse. This did not set me up well for Beckett’s next request: “Dada? Twizzler?”
“A Twizzler?” I replied. “You don’t get rewarded for being bad!”
Then a stabbing thought came into my heart—one of those thoughts that you later realize was the soft voice of God. There was a sudden knowing deposited into me that God is good to us regardless of how we live. We do bad stuff and God is still good to us—he is still unusually and confusingly kind to us. He puts us in time-out and yet still offers us a snack. Don’t hear me wrong: it’s not at all that he rewards us for doing bad, but rather that he just loves us regardless of how we act, simply because he is good and kind. As Charlie Brown told Linus while walking through a rain storm, “The rain falls on the just and the unjust” (Mt 5:45), to which Linus replied, “That’s a good system!”
“The rain falls on the earth but never chooses sides,” sings the band, The Timbre of Cedar—and it is indeed a good system. It’s not the way the governmental systems we live in work, but it is, as Jesus pointed out, the way God works. God does not simply reserve rain for good people. He is kind enough to extend it to all.
Karma (the idea that you’ll get what’s coming to you based on your actions) is not the Christian understanding of who God is. Yes, we’ll face judgment and justice for our actions, but if we truly live out the Sermon on the Mount, we should find that bad things won’t necessarily happen to bad people, nor will good things necessarily happen to good people. It’s not the Kingdom way of doing things, because Christians should be kind to everyone just as their Father in Heaven is, whether they deserve it or not.
Our God is a God who gives good gifts, even when we don’t deserve them. He is the God who gives us Twizzlers, even when we’re in a time-out.
This kind of kindness is disarming, but maybe not in the way you’d expect. As I followed the conviction in my heart and gave Beckett the Twizzler he requested, I found myself disarmed. The eyes I saw him with changed and I could see his hurt more clearly. Kindness changed the situation— maybe for him, but definitely for me.
Just as rain on the unjust could possibly demonstrate bad parenting from our Father in Heaven, so could hugging a child or giving a child candy while they’re in time-out. But unusual kindness isn’t bad parenting. After all, God’s kindness is, to some extent, looking for the same outcome that a time-out would.In Romans 2:4 Paul asks, “do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” In Paul’s question we begin to understand that although God responds to our sin kindly and patiently, his intent in doing so is still to lead us to repentance, which is the same desired outcome as a time-out.
Today’s post is an adapted excerpt from my book, A Taste of Jesus.
I quoted a song above from my friends, The Timbre of Cedar. This morning I did a little remix of the song I mentioned here. You can check it out below.
Schulz, Charles M. “Peanuts.” 23 Oct. 1973.
The Timbre of Cedar. “Rain.” Restoring the Light.