Making Those Who Were Not My People My People, And Making Those Not Beloved My Beloved

Making Those Who Were Not My People My People, And Making Those Not Beloved My Beloved

How do I say "you are my people" to all people I engage with? The honest answer is I don't know, but I"m trying, reaching, to fulfill God's commandment to include everyone and be completely inclusive in my endeavors, whatever that means to me.

Ryan Fan
Ryan Fan

"I will call them my people,

which were not my people;

and her beloved,

which was not beloved" - Romans 9:25

I have thought deeply about this verse the past several days. It is the epigraph and opening of Toni Morrison's Beloved. The Bible verse from Paul explicitly refers to Jesus's acceptance of the Gentiles, as well as the Jews, and how the ethnic Israelites rejected true religion in Christ, and that all nations beyond the Jews received the Gospel as a result.

But I think more of how Romans 9:25 applies to my own life, how the people I didn't previously call my people became my people, and how the people who I didn't previously call beloved became my beloved. Ostensibly, the answer is quite obvious: I came to love people I didn't love before.

It's more complicated than that, however, and I look to Toni Morrison's critically acclaimedBeloved for further interpretations on the complexities on the verse. The dedication of Beloved reads "sixty million and more," a reference to the number of people who died in the slave trade. "And more" has broader implications that it's not just about those who died, but those who lived on and carried the wounds and memories of the trade. In some ways, all who were affected by slavery were victimized, and Beloved deals with the trauma and "rememory" faced by the protagonists of the novel, including Sethe, Paul D, Denver, and Beloved herself. Each carries the wounds of necessary actions they had to take while escaping the horrors of the slave trade, from Sethe's infanticide of her oldest daughter to prevent her from being sold into slavery to Paul D's repression of his experience in the chain gang.

In short, Beloved and its epigraph could be a message that slaves winning their freedom, and being God's people when they were not treated as his people, and God's beloved when they were not treated as his beloved.

But Paul intended for Romans 9:25 to refer explicitly to the fact that God's love is for everyone, even for people who seem to be excluded from it. Obviously, Romans is a letter to the Romans, and is a plea to the church of Rome to love and respect the Gentiles as much as they do the Jews.

It speaks to the gravity of Romans 9:25 that Morrison took the title of Beloved from this verse. According to Shmoop, "maybe Morrison is suggesting that God's love isn't just for Gentiles and Jews—it's also for those blacks who were condemned to slavery."

Since Sethe's love is so profound and complicated that she is willing to commit infanticide to save her daughter from the suffering of slavery, does Morrison convey that a mother's love is God's love in human form? Does this equivalence equate Sethe in Beloved to Christ?

Explicitly, the verse is also a reference to the Old Testament Book of Hosea, particularly Hosea 2:23 and Hosea 1:10, that the status of Israel would be reversed in the new world.

Hosea 1:10 says that "the number of children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, "You are not my people," it shall be said to them, "Children of the living God."

Hosea 2:23 says that "I will sow her for myself in the land./ And I will have mercy on No Mercy./ and I will say to Not My People, "You are my people';/ and he shall say, 'You are my God.'"

For me, the conflict and sanctification are never over. How do I follow the commandments of Romans 9:25, of Beloved , of Hosea to include and see people as "children of the living God" more and more often? How do I say "you are my people" to all people I engage with? The honest answer is I don't know, but I"m trying, reaching, to fulfill God's commandment to include everyone and be completely inclusive in my endeavors, whatever that means to me.

I know that this starts with people I disagree with, the people I perceive to have betrayed me, that my emotions react aversively to. That is the hardest task to tackle, and tackling it first means that I will become more inclusive and Christ-like in my interactions and ministry to others.

God showed great compassion to everyone he encountered, so why shouldn't I do the same? The message of Romans 9 refers to the concept of unconditional election, that "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated" in Romans 9:13. But God brings nonbelievers into faith through the love of the Christian to the nonbelievers. Paul, in his sermon to the Athenians in Acts 17, tells them that "[God] is actually not far from each on of us." I have witnessed and experienced this in my own life. We, as sinful and flawed human beings, are not to decide the elect; God does.

And I endeavor to give love towards everyone because I feel that is what God is urging me to do, to make those who were not my people to be my people, and to make those who were not beloved my beloved, because that's what God did for me.

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.

We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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Calling People Hateful Is Not A Productive Dialogue

Universities have become a breeding ground for intolerance.


The political climate is rough. I don't enjoy commenting on it because of how controversial it has become. Every once in a while, however, I come across something that rubs me the wrong way.

As I was walking through campus the other day, chalked on the side of a cement wall was a phrase claiming the College Republican club on campus was a hate group. I don't know anything about the person who wrote this statement or anything about the College Republican group on campus, but I do know one thing: this statement is false.

Universities have become a breeding ground for intolerance.

Just because someone has a different opinion from you doesn't mean they are hateful. There is room for disagreement.

A psychology professor of mine once said something that impacted my perspective toward both political parties: "Both sides think they're right, but both sides can't be right." Both sides make decisions based on what they think is right. A person's opinion is not "wrong" if it differs from yours. It's just different.

It's important to recognize that people won't always agree with you, and that's okay. That doesn't give you the right to call them mean or hateful. It allows an entrance into discussion. Besides, if you want to persuade someone that your belief is more accurate, name calling won't get you anywhere. It will only cause the other person to view you as inconsiderate and unwilling to understand.

How can you convince someone to believe you when you won't listen to their perspective? How can you expect people to listen to you when you won't do the same in return? Not only is it important to recognize a person's beliefs, it's important to understand why they believe what they do.

In order for people to engage in productive dialogue, both sides need to listen to each other and respect each other. Tossing labels around progresses nowhere and doesn't benefit anyone.

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