The Myth Behind RAKs

How do we change the world? One random act of kindness at a time.

This statement, a favored quote from the movie Evan Almighty, has recently been floating across my facebook wall alongside Morgan Freeman’s portrait. While the sentiment behind this thought seems sweet, its rationale is utterly false.

No “random act” will ever change the hearts of men.

Don’t get me wrong, random acts of kindness (RAKs) are a good thing and we would do well to include them as an ordinary part of our lives, but let’s face it, the stranger who allows me to go ahead of him in a grocery store line, though he is kind, remains a stranger.

There’s nothing to lose by being generous in a moment, but when those moments string together to form a lasting bond of devotion, well, that’s when things can get truly costly for the giver. But that’s also when lives start to change.

No random act of kindness will change the world. Only an intentional act of love can reach deep into the soul and invite a transformation.

Now I’m not suggesting you cease all efforts to be spontaneous in blessing others with RAKs. Those gestures can go far in brightening someone’s day. Those little things really do mean a lot to a person, BUT dare I ask the question: Where is your own heart in the matter? Are you doing something small so you can avoid stepping into the life of another in a big way? Are you content to purchase a few Happy Meals for the family in the minivan behind you so you can pacify yourself that you’ve done your duty in making the world a better place? At least for one day.

It seems there’s a temptation to take these RAKs and convince ourselves that people are generally good and looking out for their fellowman simply because someone paid for our morning cup of coffee. A nice sentiment, perhaps, but seriously, they merely purchased a cup of joe. Let’s keep things in perspective.

While we’re keeping things in perspective, let’s be purposeful in our interactions with others. Let’s move beyond the boundaries of random and wade deep into the waters of intentional, even though it calls us to get in over our heads. After all, a drowning world needs more than a few life rings passively tossed into its wake. It needs people willing to dive into the waters and pull the floundering victims to safety.

It needs a Savior.

While I make no boast to being capable of saving the world, I know the One who can. So why am I so slow to share His love? Why do I hesitate to speak His words? Have His heart. Extend His hands through my own. Not just in a random act of kindness here and there, but with intent and frequency and consistency and unyielding love. A love that serves and gives when there is absolutely nothing to be gained by me, apart from the perk that comes with choosing God’s ways.

Jesus never called anyone to randomly follow Him, nor did He haphazardly toss His love about. He spoke, and acted, and lived each moment with purposeful intent. And He calls His disciples to do the same.

This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. — John 15:12-13

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law… If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.  — Galatians 5:22-23, 25

When you produce much fruit, you are My true disciples. This brings great glory to My Father.
  — John 15:8

So let’s heed the voice of our Savior and step it up. Let’s go beyond the RAKs and live a bit more determinedly. Stretch ourselves a little further. Love a whole lot larger than a free Happy Meal or giving up the closest parking space. Let’s give the gift that keeps on giving as we lift our hands to extend the love sent from heaven. A love willing to lay down its rights and sacrifice its own interests for the benefit of others.

The kind of love born in a manger and nailed to a cross.

The kind of love that really does change the world…


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