I love the post on Stuff Christian’s Like blog, “Want to change the world in 3.2 seconds?” Jon Acuff pointed out Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter who is basically faster than a speeding bullet. The summer when he was getting ready to run a race at the Olympics, Bolt did something unexpected:
Before one of his races, he walked to the start line. He was on the verge of something he’d been preparing for his entire life. In a matter of seconds, a gun would sound that launched him and every one of his competitors around the track in a mad dash toward gold.
What did he do?
He turned around and fist bumped the lane official. A guy most racers thought was invisible. A guy most television cameras completely skipped over. A guy that is so far into the background of the moment that he’s not even an “extra” in the scene.
Usain turned and did something unnecessary and unexpected. He didn’t need to do that. No one would have criticized him for ignoring the race official. That sort of gesture was not necessary or expected, but he made it anyway.
Acuff then went on to point out the sheer joy on the face of the lane official.
Bolt made that guy’s day, just by acknowledging him. Acuff’s point was that we all have the opportunity to do this each and every day with small gestures. When people are changed, the world changes, he said.
I liked this. Ever since I graduated college, I have worked in the nonprofit world. Mission statements for these companies are usually about changing the culture or bringing the Gospel to the world. I am a writer, and I have spent a lot of time crafting articles to motivate college students toward a Christian worldview or writing Sunday school lessons for impoverished children in India. I believe strongly in the things that I do, but sometimes the scope of the task to “change the world” feels a bit overwhelming.
This is why I so appreciated Acuff’s reminder to simply be kind to others. It is easy to get so caught up in the “important” work I have to do that I fail to even smile at the person behind the counter at the grocery store on a busy day. This is a skill I noticed in my boyfriend — whether at Target or at a drive-thru, he always talks to the employee who is helping him. He notices their name and asks a question or starts a conversation. It is not difficult or grand or complicated. But for someone who has just been ignored by the last 20 people whose groceries they scanned, it could be life-changing.
In the Old Testament, there is not a huge emphasis on evangelism like we think of it in the New Testament. After Jesus, Paul and the disciples go out, based on Jesus’ command to spread the Gospel to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). But in the Old Testament, God’s command was different. Israel was to follow the Law, and by doing that, they would be representing God’s character. The whole world belonged to God, and it was Israel’s call to draw people to Him through their obedience and worship. Deuteronomy 4 points this out: If Israel obeyed the Lord, other nations would hear about it and be drawn to the wisdom of God who was so close to His people. The followers of God were to be attractive to other nations, a sentiment that is repeated in Titus.
This is what Acuff’s post reminded me of. As a believer, my kindness goes a long way. It can show others the character of the God I serve. Through a smile, a kind word — or even a fist bump — I can show people that they are important, created in God’s image. I can be a believer who practices what I preach.
What do you think? Have small kindnesses by others been helpful to you? What are some ways — big or small — that you share the Gospel and show people God loves them?
Copyright 2012 Denise Morris Snyder. All rights reserved.