(Suggested Reading: Matthew 5:43-48, The Message)
My husband and I enjoyed a community event to honor the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday. I’m smiling and praising God as I remember the beautifully diverse people surrounding us, standing-room-only.
As I reflected on the messages shared by the speakers, God brought to mind a woman who had sent me a private message chastising me over a year ago. She scolded me for using my writing platform to speak against systemic, institutional, and generational racism. I had responded with an invitation to pray and discuss these issues so we could better understand each other.
She then replied with a long email with a sharp and condescending tone, informing me of “all” my “wrong thinking.” She “didn’t mind me talking about celebrating diversity,” though she claimed “God doesn’t see color.” She said I needed to stop saying that the church should speak against systemic racism because “systemic racism isn’t a real thing.”
After all, she insisted, “racism ended with the Civil Rights Movement and everyone is treated the same and has equal opportunities in life now.” She ended her lesson with a list of a few famous African Americans who were “successful because they worked hard and had the same opportunities as everyone else,” which was her way of providing “proof that racism isn’t a problem now.”
When I first read her message, I got angry. My first impulse was to blast her in an email response and tell her how wrong she was about the things she claimed. I wanted to give her a point-by-point argument to prove she was wrong and I was right.
But the Holy Spirit stopped me in my tracks.
Instead, I called a friend who I knew would pray with me and offer wise counsel on how to deal with the situation.
After I read her the email, with tears flowing and my anger seething, I listened as she spoke wise words and sighed with relief as we prayed together. She recommended I ignore the email and pray for the woman but told me it was my decision to make as I prayed over the situation on my own.
After praying for days, I decided not to respond.
My words wouldn’t change the woman’s mind. She was convinced she was right, even though she was not a woman of color and could not possibly understand what she didn’t know or hadn’t experienced.
Maybe one day she would be open for a conversation, but my friend and I agreed that the woman’s tone and choice of words proved she was closed for discussions or learning opportunities at that time.
Besides, an email would not have been the best choice to communicate with her.
I thought my decision to pray for her and ignore her was wise, until I forgot to pray for her. Then, over a year later, I had to be in the same room with that woman during an event. As soon as I found out she would be attending the event, I started realizing that I had not completely forgiven the woman.
I asked God to forgive me and to help me forgive.
Then, I prayed He would bless that woman. Still, I didn’t really know if I’d really forgiven her as Christ had forgiven me . . . completely, unconditionally, and lovingly.
So, I kept on praying over the months I prepared for the trip, as I packed for the trip, as I traveled, as I got dressed for the first day of the event, as I entered the room, and as I walked up to her and said hello.
To my surprise, I felt relief, the peace of God, and an overwhelming sense of compassion toward the woman.
I continued praying this short blessing over her whenever I saw her: Lord, show her the limitless depth of Your love for her and help her love others as You love her.
I praised God when several of the speakers during our meeting spoke about the same things she had chastised me for sharing on my platform. I had no idea these topics would be on the agenda, but God did.
I prayed for her heart to be softened to the biblical truths being shared by others.
I also prayed God would soften my heart toward her and others who didn’t agree with me about these issues and any other beliefs or opinions I held, regardless of how right or biblical those beliefs and opinions.
As I prayed, the Holy Spirit led me to Jesus’ words:
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst.
When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the supple moves of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves.
This is what God does. He gives His best ̶ the sun to warm and the rain to nourish ̶ to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty.
If all you do is love the loveable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that.
If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity.
Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” (Matthew 5:43-48, The Message).
God is still working on me, even as I type these words.
But as I practice surrendering to the Holy Spirit’s transforming love, I refuse to allow the enemy to distract me from fulfilling the Great Commission (sharing God’s truth and love to the ends of the earth) and the Greatest Commandment (loving God and others, loving my neighbors as I love myself).
As I pray for our world and for me to follow the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s example of loving like Jesus, I have committed to loving God and others as I share His truth and love wherever He leads me.
To love like Jesus begins with a prayer of surrender, the resolve to forgive as He has forgiven me, and a desire to stand firm on the God-breathed words of Scripture while being faithfully obedient to His Word, which is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit.
So, as I pray for others, as I pray God will continue transforming my heart and mind, I’m trying to follow God’s leading and make the world around me a little better.
I’m speaking against injustice and doing my part to reveal that, according to the Bible, systemic, institutional, and generational racism are sins that the enemy wants to use to divide and defeat us.
I’m sharing my devotional, Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace, with those who are weary as they trust God to work in and through their lives each day.
I’m sharing my children’s picture book, Different Like Me, now available in Spanish Diferente como yo, to help children (and some adults) celebrate our differences and our sameness as God’s beautifully and intentionally diverse and purposefully connected people.
I’ve completed two more picture books, scheduled to release in 2024, that equip and encourage readers to nurture deeper relationships with God and others while celebrating, embracing, and advocating for diversity and inclusion. Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! I can hardly wait to share more about these books! To God be the glory!
I’m using my platform as an author and speaker to promote peace and love while working toward creating safe spaces to experience a taste of the world the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of in his speeches, specifically “I Have a Dream.”
I’m being intentional about lifting other “Kingdom Subjects” up in Christ’s love, supporting them as God uses them for His glory.
And I am praying for you, our world, and for my heart so we can be rooted in God’s Word while growing in love with God’s beautifully diverse and purposefully connected people!
As Alan and I settle into our new community, we’re excited to see what God has in store for us.
He was recently asked to join the Solano County Black Chamber of Commerce. We’re praying he can use his God-given gifts to promote God-honoring changes in our community. Thank You, Lord!
Because we live in a world that hates God, more wounds will be inflicted, more conversations will be uncomfortable, and those lines of division will be drawn in hardened concrete instead of sand.
But, as always, love will prevail!
When I thought about that woman today after the event that honored Dr. King’s life, I thought about Dr. King’s sacrifices and his love for all people, including those who hated him. I also thought about Jesus’ sacrifices and His love for all people, including those who hated Him.
As I type these words, I am praying for the woman in the story above, any other person who has offended and hurt me in the past, and anyone who is going to offend and hurt me in the future. I am asking the Lord to help me release my offenders into His loving and merciful hands. I’m asking Him to help me to live with a heart committed to radical forgiveness, so I can forgive others as Jesus has radically forgiven me.
Radical forgiveness starts with a prayer, just like the prayer Jesus said while on the cross at Calvary.
As we pray over our current relationships and dig deeper into Scripture, we can ask the Holy Spirit to help us submit to His loving and wise counsel and empower us to rely on His life-transforming love and limitless wisdom and power.
I look forward to hearing your stories of how God is blessing you with freedom and peace, as we commit to loving like Jesus by forgiving as He forgave us!
Holy Spirit, thanks for opening our eyes to see when we’re blinded by unforgiveness. Please forgive us for not trusting You to be judge according to Your perfect will and to extend mercy whenever You want to extend mercy. Give us hearts that overflow with Your love, the love that the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. exemplified through his life, and the love his family continues to exemplify, as we work together to bring about the changes necessary for Dr. King’s dream to become a reality.
Please remind us that You were intentional when You created Your image-bearers to be diverse and to live and love within diverse communities. Please eradicate racism from this world and from our hearts, Lord. Help us to be willing to listen to one another so we can learn from one another so we can love one another the way You love us . . . selflessly, unconditionally, and intentionally.
Please wrap us in Your supernatural peace as we walk in the freedom and joy of love, which defeats the lover of hate and dissension, the devil, and begins with our commitment to forgive as we’ve been forgiven. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
I am so excited to invite you to a virtual book launch to celebrate the release of You Come from Greatness by Sara Chinakwe (chin-ah-kway).
“You Come from Greatness is a celebration of Black history, an anthem for future generations, and a reminder for young readers to embrace their God-given worth. You will follow in the footsteps of greatness, kings and queens, doctors and dancers, poets and inventors ̶ like them, you were born to shine.”
When I first read You Come from Greatness, I was in tears. This book is everything I was looking for when my sons were growing up! This is the endorsement and review I wrote after reading Sara’s book:
In You Come from Greatness, Sara Chinakwe’s poetic prose and Ken Daley’s vibrant illustrations celebrate some of the great Black men and women who made a difference in Black History . . . American History . . . or more accurately, World History. Though written first as an affirming love letter to empower Black readers, young and older, You Come from Greatness can encourage all readers to honor past and current Black leaders, while embracing their own power and purpose as God’s intentionally designed and diverse image-bearers. You Come from Greatness is a much-needed resource that can embolden world-changers, with their identity secured in Christ, for generations to come.
– Xochitl Dixon, Our Daily Bread writer and the author of the 2021 ECPA Christian Book Award Finalist, Different Like Me and Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace.
Please love your neighbors by ordering your copy of You Come from Greatness and extra copies to share as gifts and to donate to local libraries, schools, and churches TODAY, and please take a few moments to write a short review on Amazon.
The more reviews Sara has, the more Amazon will help her reach more readers with this beautiful message of hope that points to God and empowers readers to DREAM BIG and be all God created them to be.
You’re invited to join us for a LIVE Zoom Book Launch Party. I’ll be serving as the moderator. We’ll have book giveaways, an exclusive Q&A with the author, and more!
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