To the Editor:
Do we serve a God of love or a God of comfort?
For Christians, this question appears silly. It sounds like a question of some ill-informed skeptic desiring to cause dissension. I would argue that many Christians serve a God of love until love becomes uncomfortable. It is easy and enjoyable to love those who reciprocate love. We tend to profess our love for those who we are sure to love us back. What about the people who hate us? What about individuals who have seemingly made it their personal agenda to make us fail? What about the people who should know not to try our patience? This is when love becomes a burden and it is easier to remain in the comforting embrace of life without love. After all, those people don’t deserve our love. Especially when we consider all that they have done to hurt us. Even Jesus would have trouble loving them, right? This series of rhetorical questions are intended to prove a point. Love, when performed by humans, is often only performed under comfortable conditions.
As Christians, more is demanded from us. We will never experience the true measure of God’s love if we are not pouring out love on everyone, even those who hurt us. As a black church, we need to forgive white people. Yes, we need to forgive white people. How can we preach a gospel of love without limits when our love ends abruptly for individuals like George Zimmerman, Bull Connor, and that racist bigot who insists on greeting you with the most up to date slang even though you have a Ph.D. Yes, those people. There is a legacy of pain within the black community. It is inescapable, we all collide with it. Rather than letting history define us, why not allow the words of the living God define us? We are God’s holy people, His dearly loved children, the light of the world, a royal priesthood.
We will never walk in the fullness of that reality if we continue to succumb to feelings of bitterness, apathy and hate. It is time for us to invite God into our pain and ask for healing. Jesus’ ministry proves that He is both willing and able to heal us. In receiving that healing, we can love those who hate us, due to our security and wholeness in Christ. The realities of racism will not weaken our resolve. We as a body of Christ will love anyway. It is time for us to stop attempting to be right but to extend forgiveness and grace just as Christ did for us. This is hard to do, but all things are possible through Christ who strengthens us. Yes, love is a burden. Giving love in spite of hate is the model that Jesus provided. Let us be honest with God and receive his healing. From our newfound place of wholeness, we can forgive governments, policies, people and practices. The body of Christ will never be the light of the world if we continue to let unforgiveness and bitterness rest in our hearts. My prayer is that we would love God, more than we love holding onto our pain.
Member of United Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church