Kindness is not what we have been taught it is. It isn’t a soft virtue, expressed only by sweet grandmothers or nice Boy Scouts. Kindness is neither timid nor frail. Instead, it is brave and daring, willing to be vulnerable with those with whom we disagree. It is the revolutionary way that Jesus himself called us to live. The way of selfless risks. The way of staggering hope. The way of authenticity.
Dr. Barry Corey, president of Biola University, believes we tend to devalue the importance of kindness, opting instead for caustic expressions of certainty that push people away. We forget that the essence of what God requires of us is to “love kindness.” In this book, filled with stories from his travels around the globe, Barry shows us the forgotten way of kindness. It is a life that calls us to put ourselves at risk. A life that calls us to hope. A life of a firm center and soft edges. It is the life Christ invites us to follow, no matter what the cost.
An excerpt from Love Kindness:
Love Kindness comes from Micah, the Old Testament prophet who asks on behalf of Israel, “With what shall I come before the Lord?” (Micah 6:6). Micah answers his question with a few hollow suggestions that are in fact external religious rites, each of increasing value. Burnt offerings of calves? One thousand rams? Ten thousand rivers of oil? Our firstborn sons?
None of these is sufficient. Rather, the Lord’s sole reply of what he requires is a simple threefold response of obedience: “To do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8, esv). Love kindness. We don’t “just do” kindness in some Nike-esque way. We are to love kindness. Perhaps the Scriptures so often use the term loving-kindness to make sure we don’t separate love from kindness.
“Love kindness” is the partner of “do justice.” If doing justice is the firm center, then loving kindness is the soft edges. Both are what God expects of us, not one or the other. And we do both of these with equal passion while walking humbly with God.
Love kindness. We need this more than ever. It’s time for us to love kindness and in so doing rediscover the revolutionary force of this fading Christian virtue.
“To love kindness” seems like it should be an easy task for us—who doesn’t love kindness? Kindness is easy to show to the coffee barista when she gets our latte right. Kindness comes naturally to our family so long as there’s harmony. But kindness is much harder to show those we might have previously ignored, avoided, judged, or condemned. Kindness is a tougher road when we live in tension with colleagues or in our marriage. Try walking the way of kindness then. Kindness is not intuitive. But Jesus calls us to demonstrate the power of kindness to everyone we come across. Neighbor or stranger. Wife or son. Colleague or enemy.
The good news is that kindness has the potential to be contagious. When otherwise inconsequential, indifferent, marginalized, proud, stubborn, condemned individuals receive our genuine kindness, true connection with God can begin. And often they who have received our kindness then pay it forward.
The way of kindness is the answer for how Christians need to position themselves, especially today. Kindness is risky, revolutionary, countercultural, costly, and hard. These are also the adjectives that define what it truly means to follow Jesus.
I wrote this book as an alternative to the voices of barbed-wire-wrapped Christians who are picking fights from pulpits, blogs, talk shows, town meetings, or political platforms. I also wrote this book to demonstrate that kindness is not anemic or convictionless. Rather, it has the power to influence others, revealing the truth and grace of the Christian faith far more than the insecurity of confrontational posturing.
I wrote this book for me, the ordinary guy who grew up wanting to live a life of meaning without meanness. I wrote this book to recover in my own life the revolutionary way Jesus called us to live. The way of selfless risks. The way of staggering hope. The way of authenticity. The way of profound love.
I wrote this book because as a university president, I care about how the rising generation lives out the way of Jesus in an increasingly polarized and mean-spirited culture. So I’m posing the idea of living the way of kindness, a way that is mercy filled, reverent, and God fearing. Kindness is a dimension of God’s common grace through us. It’s a civility grounded in gentleness and respect. At the same time, kindness is neither milquetoast nor weak. It is fierce and passionate. The God-authored spirit of kindness in us has the power to upend the enemy and season the world around us for the good. Kindness as Jesus lived it presents the highest hope for a renewal of Christian civility, a renewal needed now more than ever.
My prayer is that this book gives rise to a call to live and love the forgotten way of kindness. A life that calls us to risk. A life that calls us to hope. A life that calls us to love. A life of a firm center and soft edges. And the life Christ invites us to follow.
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