I don’t normally roll this way, but where Silver Linings Playbook is concerned, I watched the movie before I read the book. The film was intriguing enough, was messy and real enough, that I wanted to read the book.
Then I came across the line highlighted in the picture above. And it wrecked me. You may not think it particularly significant, but the mere notion of a man deliberately, intentionally trying to be kind, instead of just right, fired up the synapses of my tired mind.
It made me sit up in bed.
It made me think of Jesus.
You may not see the connection, but this is un/fortunately how my brain works. On the surface, what does a novel ostensibly about a man with bipolar disorder and/or traumatic brain injury have to do with Jesus?
It’s Pat’s (the protagonist) commitment to try to be kind instead of right–to live differently from the norm–that put me in mind of Jesus. For how did he (Jesus) live?
John chapter one tells us that “the law came by Moses, but grace and truth by Jesus Christ.” Grace.And truth. Not just truth (law), but grace, too. Not either/or, but both/and. Moreover, Philippians tells us that Jesus ” who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped” (Phil. 2:6). Meaning he didn’t assert his rights to his own godhood, but instead “humbled himself, taking the form of a servant.”
He lived rightly, but didn’t assert his rights to be right. Instead, he was kind to those [us] who needed his kindness: sinners. Remember his words to the woman caught in adultery (by the way, where was the guy?): “Neither do I condemn you. Now go and sin no more.” (John chapter 8).
Elsewhere in the Scriptures, we are told that it’s “your kindness which leads us to repentance,” and that “mercy triumphs over judgment.”
Yet why do we so often get it ass backwards? Oh, we say we believe and teach the Gospel, but where is the kindness of Christ in our message of “sin no more, then come.” There may be truth, but where is the grace? The fact is, our Lord reserved his harshest rebukes for the outwardly religious, but extended his greatest kindnesses to the messed up.
To sinners. Of some such were we. Yet how is it that we get it exactly backwards, and have become so adept at shooting our wounded?
Brothers and sisters, this ought not to be. Let me ask you (let me ask me):
Are you known as a friend of sinners (like Jesus himself was)? Can you imagine with me a world where we were (as Jesus was) very intentional about being kind–instead of right?
Wouldn’t that be an amazing place to be?