A Christian Reflex

January 21, 2017 by Ben Palpant


(Editor's Note: the resemblance of the students pictured in this post, or their books, to 'Bob' and his helper is left as an exercise for readers.)

Authentic kindness is a Christian reflex. The time?

8:58 A.M.

Two minutes or less to be in the right classroom, seated in the correct chair, with all the proper materials for that class! A tardy looms. More than one student feels the ticking clock in his head, but the countdown seems extra loud for one 7th grader - we shall call him “Bob” - on this particular Monday.


Bob had jammed an enormous binder under one arm along with several books, a calculator, a Bible, a bag of pens, and a commonplace book. No time to waste.

A quick evaluation.
Got it.
Go, Bob, go!


Bob wheels around from his locker, his right arm loaded with his material and _slams_ into the oncoming traffic. From the far end of the hall where I have just rounded the corner, the accident looks spectacular. Binder explodes. Books scatter like a flock of birds.

In that mayhem moment, a senior who was just coming behind the scene stooped, calmly, in the middle of the hallway and began picking things up. She, too, was on her way to a class that started shortly. She, too, had many things on her mind. Truth be told, she was feeling pretty sick that morning, but she stopped and helped nonetheless. This student said nothing, but her actions spoke volumes. Before I got to the scene, Bob had reloaded and headed off to class. He made it on time. She made it on time.

This was not a "big deal" moment, even though it might have been, because the Christian acting on the kindness reflex did not make it a big deal.


Kindness is not a surprise at The Oaks.
Kindness is expected.
Kindness has been taught, trained, and nurtured since the first day of Kindergarten.
Prefer others.


This and many similar acts of kindness are a small act, no doubt, but an act founded on a big principle. They exert a cumulative affect on a culture. The _kindness reflex_ bears fruit in a culture of grace where mockery, cynicism and meanness feel, awkwardly, homeless.

Bob has been shaped, consciously or not, by that little moment. His kind 'helper' will be stretched still further by that little moment. The folks who saw it will, aware or not, be shaped by it.

May we be reminded that such Christian reflexes yield a cumulative affect not only on the immediate culture, but also on future generations.

When extraordinary kindness becomes ordinary because we aim to develop Christian reflexes, then we are adding to our faith goodness; “and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, persevere; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love” (II Peter 1:5-7).

Students who practice these little acts of humility and grace are developing Christian reflexes that will shape their children and their grandchildren.


(Editor's note: student on left is not Bob.)

May this little snapshot of The Oaks at 8:58 A.M. on a morning not-so-long-ago remind us to live hopefully, tending to the little moments just like an arborist tends to a sapling. An arborist does not despise small beginnings. An arborist cultivates small beginnings, knowing what that small beginning will become someday. Likewise, let us not grow weary in cultivating these Christian reflexes. We are God’s arborists raising future oak trees!