by Joan C. Benson and Marjorie Wingert
How do we live in peace in the chaos of an angry world? How can we create a culture of harmony over hatred? Daily our children see and hear more negativity than we wish they did. At school, on the media, at playgrounds and everywhere people do life, division and animosity assault us.
As we try to protect and shelter our children, we pray for solutions to such strife. Perhaps if we reacquaint ourselves with God’s original design for humankind, we will understand God’s divine solutions.
In the Beginning
God created our world with perfect peace and harmony. From God to humans and even the animals, harmonious oneness embodied our relationships.
Yet, this paradise did not last. Why? Sin. Adam and Eve’s first act of disobedience birthed division and discord.
From ancient biblical times forward, sin has spawned hatred in many various forms. Wars, genocide, racism and even everyday hurtful words are the most flagrant examples. Whether through divisive ideologies permeating our educational curriculum to politics to social media, we witness our culture leveraging one group against another.
How can harmony triumph over hatred? In pondering this dilemma, we sought our only source of wisdom, God’s Truth, His Word. Only God can help us mend the present and heal our future. But how? The answer is simple. Love.
For God so loved the world He gave His only Son. But how can God love a world so wickedly evil? In the same way, how can we love people who hate and want to harm us? We are commanded to love the way God loves…with agape love.
Agape love is not the warm, affectionate love we often feel in our hearts. This love is called phileo love. Agape love is a love that desires what is best for the other person. It is a love that hopes for what is good. Only with agape love can we fulfill God’s commandment to love our enemies. This does not mean it will be easy, especially when you have been the recipient of hatred. But when we can love those who have sinned against us with agape love and desire for their best, we become free from anger and hatred.
Where do we begin? We start with ourselves. Then we model this with our families and surrounding community. We begin by teaching Truth and modeling love.
When writing the Cornerstone Concepts for Kids Series, our goal was to provide our youngest family members with something positive in the face of division. Kids need to learn the foundation of truth presented in Scripture so they can see God’s heart. Without something bigger and stronger, like God’s Truth, even our youngest can be influenced by current ideologies.
Since hatred can often be a reaction to perceived hurt or pain, the alternative, love, is the balm of healing. Though our emotions may urge us to react in anger, love is a decision, a choice for good.
But how can this happen when our emotions respond with hurt, pain or even animosity? We pray. Is the answer really this simple? It is. But the difficult part is teaching our children to love their enemies by first modeling it in our own lives. But how do we do this?
When our children witness our feelings getting hurt, they must see us extending forgiveness. When our children hear us talking with bitter words about someone, they need to hear us ask God to help us love as Christ does. When others sin against us, our little ones need to know that we are praying for Christ’s salvation and/or healing of even our enemies.
In the same way, when our children encounter anger or hatred, we pray with them that God will give them wisdom in challenging circumstances. We pray for God to help them love as God does. When our children are angry, we pray with them and for them, that their hearts will be softened. We pray for God’s love to abide within them. And when our kids are upset or hurt, we teach them it is okay not to have warm, fuzzy feelings but to love instead with God’s agape love.
Likewise, we show our children oneness in the body of Christ by serving and helping others regardless of differences. We model unity to our children through kind and respectful behavior despite differing opinions. And when we encounter diverse cultures and backgrounds, we interact with love.
In Let’s Be One: God’s Human Race, children learn harmony over hatred, particularly in the sensitive topic of racial diversity. The message of unity and oneness despite differences resonates throughout the story through lines such as “God made us all in his rainbow of colors, created to love and help one another. We are one body unique with its parts, each one was made as God’s work of art.”
The message is clear. No matter our differences or skin tones we are all beautiful creations of God. Considering this truth, we should work together with kindness and respect. “Whatever your color, no matter your shade, you’re formed in God’s image and wonderfully made.” In those rhyming verses, children will understand God’s Truth to not judge by the outward appearance but to love because we are all made in the image of God.
Without God, true harmony cannot exist. But with God, we have hope for reconciliation and love. With delightful rhythm and rhyme along with colorful illustrations, Let’s Be One prepares young children to stand against division and hatred in the face of worldly pressures. We must arm our little ones with God’s Truth so a harvest of love and harmony may be cultivated.
Joan C. Benson is an inspirational speaker, a former educator/reading specialist, a wife, mother to four, and a grandmother to eight precious ones. Her debut historical fiction, His Gift, was released in 2020. She co-authored God's ABCs, a children’s fiction award winner in the Golden Scrolls in 2023. Let’s Be One: God’s Human Race released in October 2023.
Marjorie Wingert loves encouraging parents, equipping women, and connecting with children. She is a wife to Nathan and mother to one young daughter. She published her first children’s fiction book in 2020, Meet Mr. Caleb. Marjorie co-authored the award-winning children’s fiction, God’s ABCs, released in March 2023. Let’s Be One: God’s Human Race was released in October 2023.