Along with nearly every American I have kept a watchful eye on the events unfolding in our country. I grew up in New England and did not see a black man until I was in college. Fortunately, my first encounters were positive, and Maurice and I became good friends. Early on in my ministry, in Reading, PA, the issue of racial equality was central, and I had to personally evaluate my feelings and what I could do to face it in a Christian way. The big issue in the 60’s and early 70’s was the willingness of someone to sell his house in an all-white neighborhood to a black man. As is so often the case in issues such as this, too many white neighbors missed the point. The point was never to whom I would sell my house, but would I be the first to welcome a racially different family as my neighbor. Racism is not something we move further away but we lovingly fight to overcome.
Ten years later I was living in Kenya. When I went to the city to buy food I stood out as the only white man in the store. When I went to church it was hard, as the only white man present, to hide my presence. It is a strange feeling that changes the way you view racial differences. Occasionally we joked that Jesus couldn’t decide if He wanted to be white or black, so He chose mid-eastern which is half-way between. If racial feelings were simply color it might be easier to solve but in the end it is not the color of one’s skin but the fear we all have of embracing that which is different from what we know and are comfortable with.
In the end, however, the issue is not so much about color as it is a respect for every individual who has been created in God’s image. Our God is a creative God, as readily seen in the diversity of animals. God has displayed that same creativity in the differences He has built into man. As has been seen often on Facebook of the last week, the issue is not skin but sin. Sin causes me to think I am better than someone else (the biblical term is pride). Sin makes it easier to hate than love because God is love and Satan is hate. Until we are transformed into the likeness of our Savior we lean, because of our fallen sinful nature, heavily away from God and toward hatred.
Perhaps we need to hear again the plea of Paul to have the same mind as Jesus as recorded in Philippians 2:5-7 that admonishes us to “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant.”
Over the past 3 months we have heard over and over that the church is not a building but the people. Perhaps we also need to hear that the Christians are not the people of the world but those who live differently because of the transforming power of Jesus.
- Continue to pray for Don Koch as he recovers from knee surgery
- Remember Betsy’s daughter-in-law as she recovers from her fall and doctors determine the cause
- Remember Bill’s sister-in-law as she undergoes radiation.
- Remember those in retirement communities and nursing homes.
- Remember our nation, praying that as Christians we would display the mind of Jesus in all we do.