If you’re anything like me, the past 14 months have been so confusing for you. Between navigating a global pandemic, living in an incredibly tense political climate, and hearing over and over again that another Black man or woman has been recklessly killed, I felt like 2020 left me with more questions than answers. While there was pain and confusion in many areas, one of the most perplexing things for me—and probably some of you—was the harsh response from some of the Christians I knew. Whether from friends, acquaintances, or other Christians I saw on social media, it was hard to see their responses and not have questions. Many responses from these people left me asking questions like, “If someone who loves Jesus and has vowed to live a life reflective of the gospel is responding in a way that doesn’t advocate for people of color, nor the injustice shown to them, then what does that say about what God thinks of people of color? If they are supposed to be living lives that reflect him, then is this also what God thinks?”
Thankfully, the answer is no, which leads to the important question: what is God’s heart for people of color, and all of his people?
There are so many places we could look that would tell us the heart of God for his children, but the first place I think we should always look to learn who God is, is in his Word: the Bible. God displays his heart for his children all throughout the Old Testament, and he doesn’t stop there. He gave us a perfect model of his heart when he sent Jesus to earth. Over the next three days, we will look at different times in Jesus’ life where he reflected God’s true heart for ALL of his children.
Read John 4:1-26
If there is one thing Jesus does on a consistent basis, it is that he intentionally goes against the grain. The woman Jesus interacts with in this passage is the complete opposite of anyone society would say Jesus should be with. She is from Samaria, a place Jewish people purposely avoided at all costs. She is known and shamed in her town for having had many husbands, and is currently living with a man who is not her husband. She is also a woman, and in this time period, outside of marriage, men did not really interact with women. This woman is the complete opposite of Jesus—her life could not possibly look any more different than his. Jesus shows us here that he is not interested in only loving people who are just like him. Jesus shows us that while he does love people who are like him, his heart is also for marginalized people; those who are different, oppressed, and outcast.
Jesus not only showed this woman love and compassion, but he entered into her world to do it. He entered a space where he would be the odd man out, where it was unsafe and risky for him, and where it was uncomfortable, because he saw the Samaritan woman as someone who was worth it. He thought she deserved to know about the gift of eternal life that he offered. He thought she was worthy of dying on the cross for. His heart for every single one of his children is the same as his heart for this woman, no matter what we look like.
Take some time and reflect:
- Where have your beliefs about God’s heart for people who don’t look like you come from?
- What/who has influenced these beliefs the most?
- Do you have some biblical reforming of these beliefs to do?
Read Mark 5:21-34
Jesus was a busy man. He had a lot of things to do, people to see and heal, an entire humanity to save, and the list goes on and on. I’m sure we can all relate to this on some level (minus the saving humanity part). We are busy. We’ve got jobs to get done, fires to put out, kids to wrangle, and to-do lists that seem bottomless. Our problems are our problems, and we have so much on our own agendas that we do not have time for anyone else’s junk. I am so thankful that Jesus didn’t operate like this. In this passage, Jesus shows us his heart for people who are oppressed and hurting—and again, different from him.
Jesus is stopped by a man named Jairus to come and heal his dying daughter. Jesus agrees, and as he is on his way, a woman who had been sick and bleeding for 12 years, reached out to touch his cloak and stopped him. Just one touch of Jesus’ cloak healed this woman, but that wasn’t enough for Jesus. He engaged in conversation with the woman and gave her the space to tell him, what Scripture calls, “the whole truth.”
I would imagine that “the whole truth” could take quite a bit of time, and Jairus is probably in the background pleading with Jesus to hurry. I bet he is thinking to himself something like, “Jesus, this woman is not my problem. I have a much bigger problem to tend to. This woman will be fine. Come help me!” I’m sure even Jesus himself could have come up with a list of reasons to move on quickly from this woman. Maybe he was tired or hungry, or, as I’m sure Jairus would argue, he had somewhere else to be. But as we later see, when Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead, taking some extra time to help the woman didn’t take help away from Jairus. It only set the stage for a bigger miracle!
One of my favorite things about this passage is the contrast between the woman and Jairus. Jairus is a man who has some power, and in society’s eyes, is a holy enough man to be a leader of the synagogue. On the other hand, you have this woman, who has been cast out by everyone because of her sickness, which people most likely equate to her sin, and she holds no significance in society’s eyes. This is not at all what Jesus sees when he looks at this situation, though. Jesus sees where the immediate need is. He sees the pain, hurt, and injustice this woman has experienced—and he sees a hole he can step in and fill. He stops, listens to her, and loves her exactly where she is without rushing her. He recognizes that this woman doesn’t just need a quick fix. She needs her hurting heart to be heard, and that is what he did.
Take some time and reflect:
- Maybe you have a long to-do list of your own that you feel you need to handle before anything else. What do you need to put down in order to create more space for people who are hurting from racial injustice?
- Where can you be more like Jesus and stop and listen?
Read John 2:13-22
In this last piece of Scripture, Jesus gives us a really close look at his heart for injustice and those who are oppressed. Jesus enters the temple courts and immediately notices that those who are selling in the temple are not only using this space that God gave them in a way for which it was not intended, but they are also taking advantage of the people they are selling to and exchanging with. People were being unfairly charged high amounts of money and were being exploited and robbed, and there was nothing they could do about it.
What is Jesus’ response? He refuses to simply witness it. He makes a whip out of cords and drives them all out of the temple. Note that Jesus does not choose a posture of not caring just because he is not the one being taken advantage of. He is not passive. He does not look to someone else to deal with the issue. Instead, he takes it upon himself to be the solution. He will not let his people be abused any longer.
Jesus isn’t just bummed or a little sad that his people are being hurt. He is angry. He is upset that his people aren’t being treated fairly, and this righteous anger that Jesus displays here is not limited to monetary injustice. I believe he feels this righteous anger when any of his people are hurt, exploited, or a victim of any type of injustice—including racial injustice.
Take some time and reflect:
- Does racial injustice fire you up in a righteous way? Are you ready for it to do just that? Pray for the Lord to give you his eyes to see injustice and his heart to feel for ALL of his people.
- Who around you needs you to be their ally? Where are some places that you can fight for them?
Over the last few days, we have looked at God’s heart for all of his people, specifically those who are different, oppressed, and hurting. On day one, by looking at Jesus’ response to the Samaritan woman, we saw that God’s heart is compassionate and equal for everyone. On day two, we saw that God’s heart listens and cares for the needs of all of his children through the way that Jesus stopped to be with the bleeding woman. On day three, we saw that God does not turn a blind eye to injustice through the way Jesus responded in the temple courts.
My prayer as you move forward is that you know and truly believe that God loves you in all of these ways. He also loves your neighbor in these ways, and he loves people in every single corner of the world in these ways, regardless of where they come from and what color they are.
So, if God loves us in all of these ways, that means we, too, are called to love others in these ways. I challenge you to be like Jesus. Go against the grain. Choose to love when it’s uncomfortable. Speak for those who can’t speak for themselves. And sometimes, just leave room to listen.
Go in peace.