As president of Biola University, Barry Corey has daily opportunity to witness both callousness and kindness on his college campus. In Love Kindness, Corey capitalizes on the powerful impact that kindness can have on a community as well as within the confines of personal relationships.
Corey defines kindness as a “life of firm center and soft edges.” Said another way, this author exhorts Christ-followers to be a “people who can balance truth and grace, conviction and compassion in the way we interact with our culture.”
In the paradoxical way of Kingdom living, kindness truly has the power to change lives. Corey cites Paul’s statement in Romans 2:4 when he tells believers that God’s kindness leads us to repentance. Corey elaborates: “Kindness is empathy, walking a bit in the shoes of another rather than letting our stereotypes and fears keep them at arm’s length. Kindness—the higher ground—helps us find middle ground and common ground.” He also notes that while kindness is all over the Bible, never once is the word “nice” used. There is an important distinction between these two terms. “Kindness is fierce, brave, and daring. It’s fearless and selfless, never to be mistaken for niceness. Niceness trims its sails to prevailing winds and wanders aimlessly, standing for nothing and thereby falling for everything.”
‘Breathe the Spririt; exhale kindness’
Corey also challenges Christians to be slower to rush into a combative stance by honing their listening skills. “If Christians leaned more into kindness and understood its revolutionary power, the world would see a side of us that would cause many skeptical and irate folks on the other side to take notice.” Admittedly, those who offer gestures of kindness may be rejected. However, Corey says such acts won’t be forgotten.
Christians worldwide also need to recognize that the virtue of kindness isn’t an optional one. “[Kindness] is the natural outcome of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. We exhale kindness after we inhale what’s been breathed into us by the Spirit. Kindness radiates when we’re earnest about living the way of Christ, the way of the Spirit.”
Make yourself ‘receivable’
As believers seek to evidence the fruit of kindness in their daily lives, Corey says they will naturally take on an attitude of receivability. This isn’t to be confused with being received. Instead, Corey admonishes Christians to makes themselves receivable to others. “That is, to remove the obstacles or the distance that keep others from seeing Jesus within us.” This receivable living calls Christians to a posture of humility and a realization that even when we are kind, we may not be accepted or received.
Corey realizes that for the most part, Christians rightly feel that their beliefs are being attacked and minimalized. He also understands that as believers choose to engage their opponents with respect and humility, they will be more likely to gain an audience that will respond in kind. Certainly, today’s Christian faces an uphill battle in winning skeptics over to Christ, but kindness may very well be the most powerful tool believers can wield.
“Christians who are in it for the long haul in the new world order we’re entering (post-Christian and religiously plural) need to grasp that the greatest leadership influence lies ahead for those who walk the way of kindness in an increasingly fragmented and skeptical society. It’s a path that will help us to be stronger leaders, more winsome neighbors, healthier husbands, better mothers, truer friends, more effective bosses, and faithful disciples.”