PASTOR'S PEN: Postcard gift brings thoughts of kindness to mind

Our church received a fun gift this week in the mail. The envelope contained a letter from a man living in California and a postcard he purchased from an antique shop. The postcard is a picture of our church building in 1908.

The letter reflects the heart a 91-year-old man with a great sense of humor who hoped to make our day a bit brighter through his hobby of reconnecting old postcards with their origins. He calls this "a re-distribution of happiness."

These days, it sure can feel like kindness is in short supply. The climate of our nation is one that continues to pit people against one another, rather than encouraging respectful dialogue that preserves dignity. Disagreement leads to hatred and disrespect of the other, and social media allows this hatred to spread like wildfire. I often find myself asking, "What has happened to us?"

Christians are called by Christ to deal with such conflict using the model set forth in the Gospel of Matthew. The steps are straightforward:

1. Look at Yourself (Matthew 18:8-9) - What is my role in the conflict?

2. One-on-One (Matthew 18:15) - Resolve the conflict

3. Bring in a Helper (Matthew 18:16) - Another person's perspective can help

4. Take it to the Church (Matthew 18:17a) - Use the resources of the church and its leadership.

5. Shake the Dust (Matthew 18:17b) - Some are not resolvable; forgiveness is key to letting go and moving forward.

6. Trust that God is in the midst of difficult conversations. (Matthew 18:20)

Rather than walking around angry about circumstances beyond our control, Christ offers a method to live peacefully. When we engage our faith in this way, we represent the Light of Christ in a world that often tells us we must choose sides. How are you doing with this Rule of Christ?

I know I can use some more practice. How about we start a new movement and do our best to re-distribute kindness into the world like this gentleman is doing with his postcards? If Christians took this seriously, we could make a positive impact in every single community.

What if we start right here in beautiful Big Rapids, coming together as people called by Christ to love and community? Are you in?