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Civility #2—Imitative Civility

Treat your enemies as valuable, and do what is best suited to meet someone’s needs, and lend without despairing that you will have enough. Then your reward will be great and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is usefully kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Luke 6:35

The smallest civic group is the nuclear family, not because of how explosive it can be when its elements become too condensed, but because all of civilized society forms around this central unit. Husbands and wives create families by becoming fathers and mothers of children. First we create our children by providing them with unique sets of DNA. Then we create our children by showing them how to live among other groups of human beings. In other words, our genetic children become our civilized children by imitating our behavior. In a similar process we become the children of God by imitating him. Because God, through Jesus, makes available to us all the resources we need to thrive, we can be fearlessly generous, especially to people who respond badly to his grace and resist aligning themselves with his purposes in creation. Because God extends useful kindness to his enemies, we can become his children by imitating his civility as we engage with our adversaries, just as Christ did. Our reward will be great in the future, and society will be more civil now as we follow Jesus in the obedience of faith. Who knows? Someone might even refer to us as Christians.

Most High God, encourage us and glorify yourself as we imitate you as beloved children. Amen.


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