By Kristen Terrette, Crosswalk.com
The gospel of Jesus Christ is Good News for everyone. So Christians, those who've accepted Jesus' free gift of salvation, hold no preconceived notions about different groups of people. We're not judgmental, or racist, or prejudiced against people who look different. Right?
I challenge us to spend one day intentionally recognizing our first thought about every person we come across. When we pass those who don't look like us in a parking lot, car, or on an elevator, what thought pops into our heads? This small test will effectively point out where our prejudices are. I know, because it showed me mine. Without a doubt, I believed:
- the Gospel was for all
- and also that I wasn't a part of the problem with racial divides
But I was.
I fight predetermined perceptions every day, challenging labels I've placed on people without even knowing it. We all have them. Stereotypes and judgments based on appearance are everywhere and usually begin at a very young age because of our upbringing and environment.
I hope to do my part in stopping this in future generations, because God doesn't care about skin colors and here are four reasons why:
1. God never mentions a group's skin color in the Bible.
Yes, you read that right. Check it out for yourselves. People groups are identified by where they're from geographically, their language, or their family line, but never by the color of their skin. God never makes mistakes, so I can only assume this is intentional and strategic. He never wanted us to classify groups of people by the amount of pigmentation in their skin. We did that all on our own, even going so far as listing either black or white as options on standardized tests.
A person's complexion is only mentioned a few times, and even then these are cosmetic characteristics and do not indicate God's favoritism or cursing on them. An example is the term “ruddy” which is used to describe Esau, David, and Solomon. Ruddy is reddish in tone, meaning healthy, fresh, or clear in appearance, but it is also used to indicate the tanning of skin. In my opinion, this only lends more credibility to the idea that God doesn’t care about skin colors, because a tan appearance falls right in the middle of our human skin color ranges of very fair or white to very dark or black.
Solomon tells of his love, an individual, not a group, as being dark, and yet this refers to the darkening of skin that occurs from sun exposure, which happens to every type of skin pigmentation. “White” is used to describe someone with leprosy, and “bronze” is used to describe Jesus in the book of Revelation.
It’s embarrassing, really, that we've made a cosmetic feature, much like that of a powder or eye shadow, a dividing factor instead of looking to the Bible's example and not caring about this at all.
2. God loves diversity.
There are between 25,000 and 35,000 genes in every human cell and up to forty trillion cells in the human body! Somewhere between 100 to 378 genes are involved in the production of melanin—the pigment responsible for skin color. Even when we use the highest number, it is tiny compared to the amount of genes in every cell. And this same melanin also determines our hair and eye color. God, in His perfectness, put together a formula, so small it can only be realized under high efficiency microscopes, just to create variety in His prized creation. It was no accident He orchestrated us in such a way that every human is unique. He programmed the genes from which all our variations come within Adam and Eve, the first humans. This was what He wanted.
So all ethnic identities—every shade—highlights God’s desire for beauty in diversity. The light brown skin of the Native, Hispanic, Latino, or Middle Eastern cultures? Yes. The dark brown of North African cultures? Yes. The fair skinned Norwegian or Japanese cultures? Yes.
Every ethnicity is the beautiful handiwork of God’s creative mind. His abundance of creativity pushes beyond our human understanding. His very character is creative, so He cannot go against it. Diversity is God being His creative self, showing off to the world. A variety of skin colors gives Him glory for the vastness of His imagination! And we don’t have to look solely at humans to see evidence of this. Diversity is found in all of His creation. Trees. Flowers. Birds. Horses. Dogs. All glorify God. So variety, in skin color and all throughout the earth, should be celebrated.
3. We were created in God's image.
You know the verse. “So God created mankind is his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27
Everyone has an image. Social media is a relatively new way we display this to the world. If I want to be viewed as a devoted mother, I could show images of me making a homecooked meal, toting kids to various practices, or watching their extracurricular activities on Facebook. If I want to be depicted as a godly woman, I may share blog articles on my Savior, or post a pic on Twitter of me attending church. If I wanted to show off an image of wealth, I could post pictures of my expensive clothes and handbags, or the affluent resorts where I’d vacationed on Instagram. Now, these are random images we could attempt to project, but this concept has helped me understand this verse more accurately.
Mankind is made in the image of God. So what’s God’s image? We can go on and on about this, and I am no theologian, but I do know God is all loving, moral, creative, and reasonable. He has a perfect will, intellect, and emotions. He has authority and dominion over all. So if we reflect His image, then we, too, have these things at some level. Humans are able to love, make moral choices, think creatively, and use reason to evaluate decisions. We also have free will in deciding how we live. We are intelligent and have feelings. We also hold authority over the creatures and other living things on earth.
All people are given this capacity. Our skin color does not determine your ability to reflect God’s image. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” So as we mature, we’re to continue reflecting more and more of Christ’s image by the way we live, and our skin colors don’t limit this. No one is disqualified of this special blessing.
4. God includes all parts of the world in His salvation work.
“And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God[,] persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.” Revelation 5:9
This verse is a vision where the “elders” and “living creatures” bow down and sing praise to the slain and resurrected Lamb (Jesus). Does it amaze you, as it does me, the lengths at which He went to include all here? God could have simply said, persons from “everywhere.” But, no. He specifically uses ways we categorize people by referring to “every tribe and language and people and nation.” He wanted to cover all in His Kingdom work. No one is beyond His reach.
And there are many more verses where God includes all. Colossians 3:11 states, “Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” And Romans 10:12 says, “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”
And notice what He leaves out. He does not categorize any of these groups by their skin color. Why? Because He loves every one the same. He made each beautiful and unique according to His infinite creative mind. As Christ-followers, we are called to be like Jesus, so we must work diligently to fight against labeling people by the color of their skin. Can you help to do your part while I work to do mine? Our following generations will be better for it if we do.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images
Kristen Terrette cherishes her Southern roots and lives forty-five minutes outside of Atlanta, GA. She served as a Children's Ministry Director for many years, and with the support of her husband and two children, she now stays home writing Christian fiction and non-fiction. She's passionate about storytelling and helping people take their next steps in their relationship with Jesus. She also serves on the women's leadership team at her local church and writes for Wholly Loved Ministries. You can check out her novels and articles at www.kristenterrette.com.