On this sad Friday.
From Charleston and across the country, hearts are broken.
After looking at the painful news yesterday evening and seeing grief on the faces of our brothers and sisters in Christ in that city, I asked myself, "Is there any place that is truly free of racism and hate?"
I can think of two.
One place that is free of racial prejudice and hate is the heart of someone who truly loves Jesus Christ.
When a person comes to love and thank Him for His endless mercy to all who are His, this very love for Him and thankfulness- along with the Spirit of God Himself- push out, evict, and expel all residuals of prejudice and hate from that heart!
This is why the Apostle John says that a person cannot love God and hate his brother. In fact, he says the presence of this (His!) love, and the diminishing, dismissal and disappearance of hate for anyone, is how we know we belong to God!
John says (1 John 2:9) that if a person says they know God but have hate in the heart, that person does not know God after all! Not at all!
On the other hand, "…if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." (4:12)
One of my all time favorites preachers was the late African American pastor Dr. E. V. Hill of Mt Zion Baptist Church in Los Angeles. He once preached…
"I don't know what color the Savior is. I do know that He was born brown in the Middle East, fled to black Africa as a Child, and He was in Heaven for years before the Gospel ever got to white folks in Europe. So I'm not sure what color He is. But I do know one thing. if you bow at the alter with color on your mind…and get up with color on your mind…go back down and bow again! And stay bowed down until you no longer see color but His greatness and power!"
There is another place that is totally free of hate and racism.
Heaven is a place where no one hates anyone. There is no racism there even though there are the redeemed gathered around the throne of the Lamb "from every tongue, tribe, people and nation!" Folks will be with others from far away tribes and lands, the likes of whom they had never met on earth. And yet, all will love and all will be love! Love and praise for the Lamb and love and encouragement for each other.
I read an account of a slave, prohibited from worshipping Jesus with others, describing secret prayer meetings he had attended with other slaves in Prince George County, Virginia, until he was freed in 1847...
"Not being allowed to hold meetings on the plantation, the slaves assemble in the swamp, out of reach of the patrols. They have an understanding among themselves as to the time and place. … This is often done by the first one arriving breaking boughs from the trees and bending them in the direction of the selected spot. After arriving and greeting one another, men and women sat in groups together. Then there was preaching … by the brethren, then praying and singing all around until they generally feel quite happy...
The slave forgets all his sufferings, except to remind others of the trials during the past week, exclaiming, 'Thank God, I shall not live here always!' "
Because in Heaven there is no racism or hate.
Jonathan Edwards preached a sermon once that he titled, "Heaven Is a World of Love".
"…In heaven…all shall have as much love as they desire…as much as they can bear. Such is the sweet and perfect harmony among the heavenly saints, perfect love reigning in every heart toward each other, without limit or restriction or interruption…In Heaven, ‘tis the direct reverse of what ‘tis on earth…
…and Heaven a world of love; for God is the fountain of love, as the sun is the fountain of light. And therefore the glorious presence of God in heaven, fills heaven with love, as the sun, placed in the midst of the visible heavens in a clear day, fills the world with light. …He is a full and over-flowing, and inexhaustible fountain of love…
The inhabitants of heaven shall know that they shall forever be continued in the perfect enjoyment of each other’s love...to enjoy their love in all its fulness and sweetness forever.
Truly this is an evil world, and so it is like to be. It is in vain for us to expect that it will be any other than a world of sin, a world of pride and enmity and strife, and so a restless world….these things will always be more or less found in the world so long as it stands. Who, then, would content himself with a portion in such a world? What man, acting wisely and considerately, would concern himself much about laying up in store in such a world as this, and would not rather neglect the world, and let it go to them that would take it, and apply all his heart and strength to lay up treasure in heaven, and to press on to that world of love? …
…if you would be on the way to the world of love, see that you live a life of love ...All of us hope to have part in the world of love hereafter, and therefore we should cherish the spirit of love, and live a life of holy love here on earth…"
Heaven will be a world of love for us!
As to this old world, "Thank God, I shall not live here always!'