Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. ~Matthew 10:40
I knew that Love Kindness by Barr H. Corey would be a great book within the first chapter. Kindness is not just random acts of kindness or loving those who love you - it's a lifestyle that brings Christ's love to the world.
"The way of kindness is not just having right theology; it's being the right kind of people. It's understanding that our lives as Jesus' followers mean we have a common humanity with everyone, and therefore there's no need for exceptionalism. We owe all human beings the honor due to them as beings made in the image of God." ~Page 9
"The point of being kind to those with whom we disagree is not to be respected or befriended. That may never happen. Nor is the point of kindness to avoid wither ruffling feathers or feeling awkward, which is cowardly "niceness". The point of kindness is to represent Jesus. Being kind to those with whom we disagree helps bring Christ to the center of the situation. Being kind is how Jesus acts. Kindness is His way. When we walk that way, we reflect and honor Him, and it opens doors for what we say about Him and the gospel." ~Page 54
"We can choose to model kindness and charity across deep differences without sacrificing the claims upon which we stake our lives. That posture will affect how we talk to and treat others. The aspirations of tolerance, humility, and patience do not prevent us from expressing moral judgments or public claims of faith. But they will inform how we express such judgments and faith claims." ~John Inazu
Corey describes how kindness is how we relate to people just as much as what we do for people. It may be easier to buy a stranger behind us in line a coffee than it is to really sit down and listen to someone's opposing views or be there for someone during a difficult time. It's about not having to be right but rather to be kind.
"When the apostle Paul writes to the church in 2 Corinthians 2:16 about how we need to be the aroma of Christ, he says that some will sense our aroma as the "smell of death". We are seeing this around the world today as more Christians are being persecuted and killed than ever before. Jesus never said we would be received. He actually said that often we will be rejected. When Jesus sent out the Twelve he gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and heal them from sickness and disease. As he sent them, he gave them a caution because he knew there would be many wolves set on destroying them. "I am sending you out like sheep among the wolves," Jesus warned his closest followers, "Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." (Matthew 10:16)
Kindness means loving our enemies in a gentle, dove-like way. Kindness, however, is not naive. Living the way of kindness means that we accept that we will be rejected. But we must be also be aware that there are not only those who will ignore us but also those whose intent is to crush us. Discernment and wisdom are components of kindness.
Kindness means we won't back down on speaking out against the Satan-smelling evil in the world. hatred, racism, violence, exploitation, and greed all smell like the devil. We need to be concerned about and combat the spirit of this age that is rampant. We need to stay strong in our faith and fear not, despite those who are committed to upending the message of the gospel and who refuse to engage in gracious conversations. We need to be aware of the growing nihilism in our society, the rejection of principals based on moral reasoning and biblical truths, leading to a belief that life is meaningless. We need to strengthen our resolve against the truthless and graceless claims of radical religious types globally who would rather choose violence than collaborate toward peace. We need to face these movements as the people of God with steadfastness through the power of the Holy Spirit." ~Page 210-211
"Living to be received and living to be receivable are quite different. Kindness is living to be receivable, opening ourselves to others whether they receive or not. Living to be received focuses on how others respond to us. This is beyond our control." ~Page 174
Corey often talks about a firm center and soft edges. We can have strong convictions without being hard-hearted.
He also goes on to say that if we proclaim to be Christians, then the world will look at us and judge us more harshly for our failings. Those who despise Christians will want us to fail, will point out all our shortcomings. While Christians are only human, sinners like everyone else in the world, we do need to try to do our best at all times and kindness is the way. Respond in kindness to those people - put aside our pride and clothe ourselves in humility so that Christ can shine through us. Luke 6:35 tells us "Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked."
No one ever said that kindness would be easy.
I highly recommend this book to everyone - I marked so many pages and will be reading it again and again as a reminder to myself. I learned so much from my little Jacob, who was the epitome of kindness, and I want to carry that kindness in my heart and show it to others. Not always easy, but so, so important. As Corey states: are we to bring all the world to Christ or is our job to bring Christ to all the world?
This book was given to me by Tyndale Publishing in exchange for my honest review.