“We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother he has seen, cannot love the God he has not seen. And we have this command from Him: The one who loves God must also love his brother.” – 1 John 4: 19-21
Racism is definitely a “hot topic” today. So, how do we respond? How does God respond? Take a look at the story of Jonah. We might remember this story from Sunday School days: Jonah gets swallowed by a fish. But did you know there’s so much more to it? The story of Jonah deals with some tough themes: hatred, disobedience, and racism – just to name a few.
It all started when God asked Jonah to preach in the city of Nineveh. Jonah harbored such a deep hatred towards this city that he tried to run from the job. Ultimately, that decision led him to spend three days in the belly of a fish before finally agreeing to obey. Fast forward a bit and after some pretty reluctant obedience on Jonah’s part, the people of Nineveh respond with a huge change of heart. They turn from their old ways back towards God, and God shows them His mercy.
Jonah, however, is outraged. Even though he had just experienced God’s grace first-hand, Jonah had hoped to see this city meet with God’s wrath rather than His mercy. Jonah was harboring a heart of racism.
Unfortunately, just glancing at recent headlines highlights the problems of racism in our culture. It’s an issue still very alive and well. It might even be an attitude you hold today. I don’t pretend to know everyone’s story or situation, but God’s response can be summed up in one statement: If we claim to be followers of Jesus, our opinions and our feelings cannot have more authority in our lives than what God says is right.
Jonah disobeyed God’s calling because of his feelings and opinions towards a group of people, simply because of where they were from. But God’s love, hope, and salvation are available to everyone – no matter their background, their baggage, or their race.
If this topic hits a nerve with you today, then ask God to transform your heart. Because there is no place for racism in the heart of a child of God. Ask God to help you become a beacon of light and a voice of hope in a world that is longing for justice and kindness.
Adapted from a sermon by Senior Pastor George Wright, Shandon Baptist Church, Columbia, SC