When God called Jonah to go preach to the Assyrian capital of Ninevah, he did not want to go because he knew God would have mercy on them. Jonah, being a Hebrew, resented the idea that God would show love to Israel’s #1 enemy. Jonah would rather die than admit the Ninevites were God’s children, too. Jonah was so entrenched in his nationalistic pride that even after 3 days in the belly of a fish he only offers what appears to be an intentionally anemic sermon (only a few words long). Yet, God uses the moment to show love and mercy toward Jonah’s enemies. They repent, and the book of Jonah ends with Jonah pouting about how gracious God is toward the “wrong” people.
Jonah is not the only one to get it wrong. In his day, Jesus rocked the status quo with a message of love for neighbor, using the parables like the Good Samaritan to show “enemies” like the Samaritans are in fact neighbors- the very ones we are called to love. Anyone can love a friend, but Jesus taught his followers to love enemies and pray for the ones who hurt you.
This message of reconciliation is at the core of the Gospel. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ breaks down the dividing walls that exist in our relationships. There is now no place for hate in the life of someone who follows Jesus. Hate is contrary to the core of the Gospel.
In Charlottesville, we have seen raw hate embodied in the words and actions of the white supremacists. There is no masking it, and there is no excusing it. It is preposterous that anyone who claims to be a Christian could spew hate in the way we have seen, because it is not just racist; it is anti-Christ.
The faithful stand together in opposition to what we have seen and in solidarity with the ones who are targets of hate. We stand together because it is where Jesus, by his grace, has called us.