With the sorrow, pain, and racial tensions we have been feeling in the U.S. these days, I am remembering a time when I experienced some of the most intense feelings I have ever had. My husband Ed and I, both white Americans, were with a group of other people from our organization, from Ghana, the Philippines, Singapore, and others from the U.S. We were together in the Philippines, where some of us lived, watching the movie “The Passion of the Christ,” which had just come out.
If you have seen this movie, you know it is painful to watch, because the violence done to Christ is depicted much more graphically and realistically than it is in many other movies about Him. Somehow, though, when it was over, and we gathered together to talk, I found myself filled with an intense love for the people around me, representing three other races than my own.
I have had the privilege to live and work most of my adult life in places where I was in the ethnic minority. I loved the people I was with in every place. I may never have lived in those places except that God’s love, which had so changed my life, had sent me. But for some reason, after watching the portrayal of the willing sacrifice of Christ on the cross for our sins, I found myself loving and appreciating the people in our group with stronger feelings than I had ever had before.
An idea of His love
My feelings soon faded back to normal, but it would be hard to forget them. I can only conclude that God wanted me to have an idea of the immense love He has for all people and how strongly He desires our oneness as believers. He was willing to actually die on a cross to bring us into relationship with Him. The love I felt that day toward my brothers and sisters of other races was overwhelming. How much greater His love must be towards each of us than we can feel or imagine.
Since it has been many years since I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior, I can say very surely that He changes us for the better when He comes into our lives. We followers of Jesus still sin. We are still human. But when we follow Jesus closely, according to His Word and in the power of His Spirit, we will not give racism, or any other kind of hatred, a place in our hearts. We may find this sin in our hearts, but we cannot continue in it and at the same time stay close to Him, for He is love.
Made in His image
I grieve that people of color face discrimination and even death purely because of their God-given skin color. I talked with my neighbor from the U.S. Virgin Islands about the killing of George Floyd the other morning. “It’s like they want to kill all black people!” she exclaimed. “What have we done?”
Nothing, dear neighbor, except to be made in God’s image. What motivates someone to judge or even kill another person because of the color of their skin? It is certainly not love. What motivates someone to destroy other people’s property? Though he may be filled with understandable rage at systemic injustice, it is not love. Many of the things taking place in the current situation are evidence of the sin we are all born with. We may not have done these things, but all of us have been unjust and destructive in other ways.
That is why I hope and pray more people will come to know Jesus. He not only forgives our sin and promises us eternal life with Him, He changes us now. When He comes into our lives, He puts His love in our hearts — a love we could never come up with on our own. We may not feel it strongly all of the time, but as we grow in our faith we will choose to love and accept all people (whether we agree with them or not). We will respect them and want and work for their best.
Our only hope
Jesus is our only hope for real change in our society, because He changes us from within. His enormous, revolutionary love can change our country, or any country, as He changes us, one invaluable person at a time.
I pray that we will ask God to search our hearts at this time of national and international struggle over racism. May we repent of any sin He brings to mind, and fully surrender our lives to Christ. If recent events can be the catalyst to help us turn to Him, the deaths of the beautiful people we are mourning will not have been in vain. Because of Jesus, there is hope. We may yet become — or at least be closer to being — one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice, and love and respect, for all.
God bless you.
Photo credit: Melanie Moen
If you would like to know more about Jesus before making a decision to invite Him into your life, please begin reading the Bible. An excellent place to start is the Gospel of John: John 1 NASB – The Deity of Jesus Christ – In the
You will also find helpful information here:
EveryPerson.com – A Safe Place to Explore Questions about Life and God
Read how I came to invite Christ into my own life in How My Song Began.