"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another, and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive." (Colossians 3:12)
These are not necessarily the words that we would associate with Paul the apostle. He more likely deals with grand theological themes, i.e. Justification by faith, etc. So to speak of, among other things, the necessity and importance of kindness as being a mark of our identity is something we do not ordinarily hear. But there it is; a word, associated with other words, that might speak of lowliness and humility, a willingness to offer another a sense of graciousness. It certainly does not describe the bombastic, self-made, aggression that often passes as Christian conviction and courage.
Our President has caught some flak recently for (among many other things) his willingness to reciprocate with a bow when he visits leaders and citizens of far Eastern countries. Apoplexy almost sets in as folk will scream, "We bow to no one," and then they may quickly follow with words like, "except God or Jesus or...."
In June of 2008 I traveled to Japan for the wedding of our son Donny to his precious wife Izumi Kajiyama. I was greeted at every turn with a bow and, as is our custom, maybe a handshake. Since I was received so graciously, I wanted to present myself in the same way, so I bowed so frequently that I thought I might become stooped. But not once did I feel like I was submitting myself to another or bowing out of fear or unworthiness. Likewise, those who greeted me with a bow looked me in the eye with no sense of fear. I never once thought that my faith or my American citizenship was being compromised.
It is strange that we get upset about this matter of submission. We are a people who practice it or, at minimum, think about it a great deal. We see ourselves as the greatest nation on earth and, some in our midst, interpret that to mean that others should respect us to the point of being in submission to us. The spirit of imperialism is alive and well in some quarters.
And domestically, there are those who still live by the rule of submission. More men than any of us would like to think will communicate to "their" woman that she must submit to him in all things or else he will beat the hell out of her and they make no bones in loudly proclaiming to anyone in earshot that they will beat the hell out of her. In their sick, pathetic little minds, a woman being submissive marks him as a real man. And what can we say to the manner in which they threaten children.
"Random acts of kindness" is an idea that seems to work. Oh that it could become our on-going lifestyle. Sure might clean up some of the rhetoric and clouded minds we sense today.