Harmony in a World as wracked by tension, strife, prejudice and violence as the one we live in today? Impossible! you might think, as you're tempted to put this in the nearest trash can. But please just take a minute to read on and at least consider the solution offered herein.
We have all seen or read about the horrors that can result when animosity escalates between people of divergent backgrounds. Strained race relations in scores of countries across the globe all attest to the fact that something is dreadfully wrong with the human condition.
What if a decree was made that all people of every country, color and creed were to respect and accept everyone else, regardless of their differences? Unfortunately, even if someone had the authority to issue such a mandate, it would never work. Simply put, righteousness cannot be legislated. Kindness, understanding and love must come from the heart, not as a dutiful response to a law.
To suddenly accept and respect someone when you've been taught since childhood that your particular color, creed or culture are better than theirs is no small task. It would be even more difficult to instantly accept someone you resent because you know that their people have caused yours years (or perhaps centuries) of suffering, humiliation, abuse, exploitation or persecution.
When a person has been bereaved, lost their house or land, or in some other way been the brunt of violence or cruelty perpetrated by another ethnic group, no edict is going to change the victim's attitudes overnight. Even if they wanted to love and accept others, old habits die hard, and no amount of willpower can instantly overcome deep-seated resentment or hatred.
So how can prejudice, fear and distrust be overcome when these things have been ingrained for centuries? The answer is summed up in one simple word: love!
King Solomon of old, reputedly the wisest mortal to ever walk the earth, wrote, "Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins" (Proverbs 10:12). If you hate somebody, your interactions with them are likely to breed disagreement and conflict. But if you love them, even if they have wronged you, it's possible to look beyond their faults and accept and forgive them.
This may sound like a noble aspiration--to overlook and forgive all the flaws and failings of others--but realistically, who is capable of suddenly releasing resentment, hatred, fear or other deep-seated negative attitudes they may harbor toward individuals or entire groups of people? Most of us lack the resolve and emotional wherewithal to do that.
The good news is that despite our limited human resources, it is still possible for us to truly love, understand and accept others, regardless of their past or background. The key to such love comes from the ultimate source of love, God Himself. The Bible tells us that "God is love" (1 John 4:8). He is the all-powerful Spirit of love who created the universe and brought us all into being.
To show us what He is like, He came down to our level by sending His own Son to earth in the form of a man, Jesus Christ. Jesus' entire ministry was one of love. He experienced human suffering, and had great compassion on the people as He ministered to their spiritual and physical needs. He became one of us.
He taught that we could fulfill all the laws of God by keeping just one great commandment: to love. Jesus said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind," and "you shall love your neighbor as yourself." (See Matthew 22:37-40.)
On one occasion, a self-righteous expert in religion overheard Jesus teaching this, and publicly challenged Him by asking, "Who then is my neighbor?" Jesus responded with the story of the Good Samaritan, in which He clearly showed that our neighbor is anyone who needs our help, regardless of their race, creed, color, nationality or cultural background. (See Luke 10:25-37.)
The way we can love our neighbors and do our part to bring peace to the world is to give our own hearts to the "Prince of Peace," and ask Him to give us the love we need for others. When we are connected with the God of love, His Spirit within us can empower us to do what is otherwise humanly impossible: to truly love others the way we love ourselves.
The Bible says of Jesus, "He Himself is our peace, who has made both [different races] one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation" (Ephesians 2:14). The supernatural love of God is what brings genuine peace, unity and mutual respect between us.
"Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). And when we are in tune with God, we too can look past the color of someone's skin to see their heart and spirit. We can then view each person as the beautiful and unique creation of God that they are.
Even when fear, prejudice and hatred have been ingrained for years, the wonderful love of God can wash it all away! Once you personally know that God loves and forgives you, it becomes much easier to love and forgive others. You can then "get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, along with every form of malice, and be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each another, just as in Christ God forgave you" (Ephesians 4:31-32, NIV).
When you open your heart to Jesus, He can miraculously free you from the bondage of hatred and ill will toward others. "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
What a wonderful world it could be if we were all color-blind and race-unconscious, where the only thing we saw when we looked on a person of another ethnic background was love--the color of love! It's possible, in Jesus, where "there is neither Jew nor Gentile, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you all are one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).
Do you want such love for others? It's yours for the asking!--"For God is love." He loves you so much that He sent Jesus to give His life for you. "For God so loved the world [you and me], that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus], that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
Jesus will freely forgive you of all your sins and give you eternal life if you will simply ask Him to come into your heart. Receive Him now by sincerely praying a prayer like the following:
Dear Jesus, I want to know You. Thank You for giving Your life for me. Please forgive me for all the things I have done wrong. I now open the door of my heart, and I ask You to please come in and give me Your free gift of eternal life. Fill me with Your love and help me be more tolerant of others, regardless of who they are. Amen.
The Bible tells us that the day is soon coming when Jesus will personally return "in great power and glory" to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. The exploitive and exclusive regimes of man will be no more when "the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord" (Revelation 11:15).
All ethnic boundaries will be swept away then, and the peace-loving people of the world will unite in true harmony. "All people, nations and languages shall serve the Lord in an everlasting dominion. ... and nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." (See Daniel 7:14; Isaiah 2:4.)
But why wait till then, when you can have God's heavenly peace and love in your heart and life right now? Receive Jesus today, and do what you can to share His love with others.