The world is in an uproar. People are angry about Covid, about quarantine, and about an abuse of power. Now, what these three realities all have in common is not the color of someone’s skin. It’s how we treat the people around us, no matter what color their skin is.
A few years ago, I was summoned for jury duty. Many of the prerequisite-questions asked of us potential jurors were about race and skin color. I was confused by this until I realized the man being prosecuted was African American. The questions then made more sense to me, they were intentionally making sure he got a fair trial, which I appreciated. But what really stuck with me from this experience was how different my perspective on skin color is than a lot of people’s.
See, to me skin color is no different from hair color. It’s just an element of someone’s outward form that makes them individual. I wouldn’t treat someone differently because they have brown hair instead of blond hair; in the same way, I wouldn’t treat someone differently because they have skin that is darker or lighter than mine.
Now maybe you’re thinking, well that’s probably because you don’t have much experience with racial issues. In one sense this may be true but not in others. We need to keep in mind that what we are actually talking about when we refer to racial issues, isn’t skin color. We are talking about people’s mindsets and behaviors towards others in regard to their skin color.
My personal stance is that skin color doesn’t and shouldn’t make any difference to a person’s inherent value or how we should treat them. Now in case you think I hold this position in word only, you should know my family has different skin colors in it. My older brother and I don’t share the same genetics, skin color, or race, but he is and will always be my brother, who I love. I also have cousins who are Native American and African American, and for many years I babysat for a couple, a Caucasian mother and a Filipino father with five children: three biological bi-racial kids and two adopted African American kids. I have been friends with and/or fellowshipped with people from all difference races: Russian, Native American, Welsh, Canadian, German, English, Swedish, Scottish, Australian, Nigerian, Cameroonian, African American, French, Argentinian, Honduran, Haitian, Hawaiian, Indian, Mexican, etc. So I would consider my perspective decently well rounded.
People are people, and the real question is: Do we or do we not treat others as we would wish to be treated?
Do we do as God commands us to do? Luke 6:31 “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (NIV) Or do we act like somehow we’re better and more deserving than other people? The issue isn’t skin color, or even skin deep, it’s what’s in the human heart. The issue is our pride. Pro 13:10 “By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom.”
Jesus gave us wisdom to live by in His commandments. “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Mat 22:37-40
“Love your neighbor as yourself” is a command we like to twist around to just mean the neighbors that are like us, the neighbors who we like, and the neighbors we don’t have any prejudices against. This issue of definition was true even in Bible times. Do you know how Jesus addresses it?
Luke 10:27-34 “[An expert in the law] wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.”
Which person are you in the story of the Good Samaritan? Because I think we are all in this story. We’re either the person beaten, the robber who beat the person, the priest or levite who walks by without doing anything to help the person, or the Samaritan who does help the person. What kind of person are you choosing to be today? (If you recognize you’ve made the wrong response, please know repentance and forgiveness from God are always available to you.)
Jesus doesn’t define the neighborly one as having similar skin color, racial origin, or cultural identity. Jesus defines “Loving your neighbor” as setting aside any distinction you think there is between you and simply caring about the other person as a person.
Challenge: Don’t be a race, be a Christian.
(All Scripture unless otherwise indicated was taken from NKJV, emphasis added.)