Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Black History Month: more than shells

“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (John 7). Jesus said that to people who saw him as a plain, poor Galilean and were astounded at how he could teach. “How can this man know so much, when he hasn’t had much education?”

The people saw the “shell” (as my husband on Sunday referred to outward appearance) and thought they knew all there was to know.

I heard this as a very helpful reminder. Probably all of us have questions we need to ask ourselves repeatedly to shake us into looking deeper than outward appearances. The questions I ask myself are questions for one particular white woman. Those will be different than the questions any particular black woman, for example, will ask herself.

Some of my questions to me?

  • When I see a kid in sagged pants, do I feel disgusted? Or do I remember some of silly ways my own sons dressed, driven by their own culture?
  • When I see a big man with dreadlocks, is nervousness my automatic response? Or do I remember how many times I’ve looked at my own children and said, “It’s just hair”?
  • When I see a young woman pushing a stroller, do I try to discover if she’s wearing a wedding ring? Am I more likely to do that if the woman is black than if she’s white?

Yes, color is part of who we are, and our cultures have shaped us in significant ways. But compared to our core that is eternal–skin color is a shell. It reveals nothing about whether we want to do God’s will and thus know that Jesus is true.

I have to go beyond first impressions, beyond a person’s color or hairstyle or marital status, to know whether that person seeks God’s glory. That’s when I’ll know whether that person is true and whether I’m with a brother or sister in God’s multi-racial family.

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2 Responses to “Black History Month: more than shells”

  1. I have learn that lesson this year. I didn’t realize just how “racist” I was until just recently. I was invited to the 50th Anniversary of the Catholic Elementary School I attended. They asked us to bring pictures and I found several pictures of a “Black Faced Minstrel” that the school had in 1961. What were the nuns thinking – that didn’t help my view of non-white races. In the last 2 years God has RADICALLY changed me and has given me a love and concern for non-white races.

  2. Love this Noel. I think those are also “some of my questions to me”.

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