Sunday, May 12, 2013

An Uncommon Act of Kindness

A cup of water given to the thirsty; food offered to the hungry; clothes donated to the naked; a visit made to the sick, imprisoned or lonely. These are the uncommon acts of kindness that Jesus uses as His litmus test for genuine faith as found in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 25.

None of these acts are miraculous in nature and can be done by anyone, anywhere at any time. They are not limited to social or financial status, gender or ethnic background. Quite simply, the acts themselves are cloaked in love.

Such an uncommon act of kindness was performed Monday night at AT&T Park in San Francisco by Matt Kemp, the centerfield for the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers.

Kemp was informed during the game that a fan of his was in attendance. But this was not your typical Dodgers fan. It was a boy named Joshua Jones, who is battling cancer which has left him in a wheelchair and unable to speak.

According to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports, when the game ended – Kemp had made the last out in a loss, the Dodgers' fourth in a row – he walked over to Joshua in the stands not knowing that he was being videotaped by a spectator ... “Kemp reaches out to shake the Joshua's hand, and instead he gets a baseball, which the boy had in his right hand. Seated below field level, the boy looks with wide eyes as Kemp signs the baseball. The boy beams silently. Kemp returns the ball and then, in a ballpark full only a few minutes before, as onlookers laugh and cheer, Kemp removes his cap and hands it to the boy. He pulls his jersey – No. 27 – over his head and hands that, too, over the rail. And he unties his cleats, pulls off the right and then the left, and gives them to the boy so that his lap is piled with most of Matt Kemp's uniform.”

“It's just something I felt probably would have cheered him up a little bit,” Kemp said. “Help him out a little bit. I just did it. Hopefully that made that kid's day.”

Often, I will hear people say where is God today? Where is our Emmanuel – God is with us?

God was there at AT&T Park after the game ended and the stands emptied. He was there – ministering through Matt Kemp to an ailing boy. And He seeks to minister through us too.

Many Christians feel they cannot be used by God because they are not rich, famous, smart, eloquent, or good-looking. But God tells us in I Corinthians 1:26-29, “that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.”

God is not looking for the wise and noble. He is looking for you and me.

Kemp saw a need that only he could meet and when no one was watching, with his team sitting in last place in the National League West division, he met that need. Joshua Jones may only live a little while longer but he will forever have Kemp’s kindness stamped on his heart. This IS the gospel. God’s hands outstretched on the cross begging us to come and receive His love and then bidding us to extend that love to others.

Often professional athletes are rightfully labeled as selfish and egotistical – not Matt Kemp. I do not know if he is a Christian but on Monday, May 6 at AT&T Park he passed Jesus’ litmus test for genuine faith.

Mother Teresa, who founded the Missionaries of Charity, an organization that is now present in more than 133 countries helping to care for children, the sick and the elderly, described her work with the poor and impoverished this way, “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”

I think Matt Kemp’s uncommon act of kindness would have made her smile.

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” - Mother Teresa

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