A new resident moved into our town this past summer; you might recognize her name… Taylor Swift. Yes, that Taylor Swift — one of the biggest stars in Pop / Country music today.
Now if Miss Swift bought a house in our town (and I use the term “house” lightly), you might suspect we live near Nashville, Los Angeles, or maybe a more exotic location. No, Taylor ultimately succumbed to the allure of Westerly, Rhode Island. Where? Exactly.
Westerly is hardly a flashy celebrity hotspot. It’s an ordinary New England beach town with the obligatory surf and souvenir shops, McDonalds, and a little “downtown” area that’s supposed to look old fashioned. But Taylor endeared herself to residents by frequenting the local restaurants, shops and attractions. All summer long the town was abuzz with tales of our famous new neighbor… but I heard one simple, recurring theme from everyone who interacted with her: “she was really nice!”
“Nice” is often taken for granted in society these days, but in reference to Taylor, it seemed to be an exceptionally noteworthy trait. If you think about it, just being nice can go a really long way. Have you ever dreaded a scenario you thought would be a nightmare — maybe a meeting with a notoriously difficult authority figure, or even just asking for help at the DMV? What a liberating experience if that person unexpectedly smiles, understands, and responds in a helpful manner!
Unfortunately, Christians carry a lot of not-so-nice labels these days. We’re regularly accused of being hateful and intolerant, narrow-minded and judgmental. These opinions may often be overblown, but it would be a good idea for us to stop and think why unbelievers say these things about us. Are we truly doing our best to understand them when their thoughts don’t match up with ours? Are we really showing love and kindness to people, even when we disagree with them? Are we genuinely nice and compassionate in our efforts to build relationships with them?
Taylor Swift didn’t suggest people should change their way of life when she came to town. She didn’t expect everyone around her to become an instant fan of her music. In contrast, she gained respect and appreciation by simply treating others with humble, accepting kindness. Maybe we can do the same as Christians?
Luke 4:22 — “Everyone spoke well of him (Jesus) and were amazed by the gracious words that came from his lips.”
– Ron Reid