The other night I was reading a book to my son Colton that presented people from around the world. The book showed pictures of what each cultural group looked like, the food they ate, and the clothes they wore. As we turned the pages of the book, I enjoyed listening to Colton share his thoughts of the world he was discovering. With each page he had questions, but also richly innocent comments about the beauty of the people he was seeing. As I drank in this moment, I could almost hear the song, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” playing in my mind. Colton noticed the differences within each culture. He noticed that the person from Asia had eyes that were shaped differently than his. He also noticed the beautiful layers of beads the African woman was wearing. In Colton’s short life he hasn’t had a chance to form any bias toward any group of people. All he knows is that God made the earth and everything in it.
After Colton had fallen asleep, I spent some time thinking quietly about how harsh humanity has been toward one another throughout history. Most of this boils down to the color God chooses to paint His most treasured pieces of art. I am not trying to oversimplify the deep hurts and abuse that many different groups have felt through the ages, but I do believe it grieves our heavenly Father when we say, in essence, “God, I don’t like the color of paint you used to create this person.” There is no justifying racism. In the end we will have to answer for this kind of thinking. We might as well start addressing the issue now.
As we begin to move towards daring to love people that look different than we do, we have to keep in mind that to change the world, we can begin with our own heart. I believe that means getting honest about the attitudes and feelings we carry toward one another, including the way we look. The next step would be to ask God to show us those areas of racism and bias and help us remove them— all of them. Ezekiel 36:26 says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” What great freedom would come from this process— freedom from old thinking and freedom to seek out friendship with people that God painted with a different color.