In this short excerpt written by the prolific Christian Ethicist Stanley Hauerwas to his Godson, he describes one quality of both God the creator and us the image bearers: Kindness.
An extraordinary Christian named Julian lived in Norwich during a time we now called the Middle Ages. She had a vision of God that is as wonderful as it is frightening. One of her famous claims is that “all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” Such a claim seems remarkable because the world in which she lived seemed anything but “well.”
So how did she know her claim was true? She says she knew because “God is kind in his very being.” She knew of God’s kindness because God became our “kind” in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christians call this great mystery—the mystery of how Jesus was very God and very man—the Incarnation.
It is because our faith centers on the Incarnation that kindness is the very heart of the way we are called to live. We believe, even in a world as violent as the one in which we find ourselves, that we can risk being kind. We are called to be like God, but we are not called to be God. In fact, we believe we can be like God precisely because God is God and we are not. We are, like Connie and the rabbits in your backyard and the plants the rabbits’ eat, creatures. Another great Englishman, William Langland, in a poem called Piers Plowman, asked “what kind of thing is kind,” answering that
Is the creator of all kinds of beasts.
Father and former, the first of all things, And that is the great God that had beginning never.
Lord of life and of light, of relief and of pain.
We are creatures created by kindness to be kind to all that is.
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