When people have lost loved ones, homes, or land, have been the target of violence, or have otherwise felt the brunt of another group’s scorn, no edict is going to change the victims’ attitudes overnight. Even if they wanted to reconcile, 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 so deeply ingrained? The answer is summed up in one word: love.
“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.”1 If you hate somebody, your interactions with them are likely to breed disagreement and conflict. But if you truly 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. Sometimes we don’t even want to do it.
The good news is that despite our human limitations, 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.”2 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 sent 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 fulfilling just two commandments: “Love God,” and “Love your neighbor.”3
On one occasion, an antagonist overheard Jesus teaching this and challenged Him. “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.4
The way we can love our neighbors and do our part to bring peace to the world is to ask the Prince of Peace, Jesus,5 to give us His love for others. When we are connected with the God of love, He can empower us to do what is 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 [races] one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation.”6 The supernatural love of God is what brings genuine peace, unity, and mutual respect.
Even when fear, prejudice, and hatred have been ingrained for years, the 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 other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”7
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.”8
What a wonderful world it would be if the only thing we saw when we looked at others was love—the color of love.
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I say that we should regard all men as our brothers. What? The Turk my brother? The Chinaman my brother? The Jew? The Siam? Yes, without doubt; are we not all children of the same father and creatures of the same God?—Voltaire
1. Proverbs 10:12
2. 1 John 4:8
3. Matthew 22:37–40
4. Luke 10:25–37
5. Isaiah 9:6
6. Ephesians 2:14
7. Ephesians 4:31–32 NIV
8. 2 Corinthians 5:17