The New Testament insists that we put Jesus at the centre of the picture and work outwards from there. The minute we find ourselves looking at the world around us and jumping to conclusions about God and what he might be doing, but without looking carefully at Jesus, we are in serious danger of forcing through an ‘interpretation’ which might look attractive – it might seem quite ‘spiritual’ and awe-inspiring – but which actually screens Jesus out of the picture. As the old saying has it, if he is not Lord of all, he is not Lord at all.
Love leans in first. It listens long enough to understand why. It hears what a person fought through to get to where they are. It listens until it can hear with empathy.
The late great Dr. E.V. Hill was once asked if he thought Jesus was Caucasian as depicted in paintings. This was his reply:
“I don’t know anything about a white Jesus… I know about Christ, a Savior named Jesus. I don’t know what color He is. He was born in the brown Middle East; He fled to black Africa; and He was in heaven before the gospel got to white Europe. So, I don’t know what color He is. I do know one thing: if you bow at the altar with color on your mind, you’ll get up with color on your mind. Go back again – and keep going back until you no longer look at His color, but at His greatness and His power – His power to save!”
Christian mission must… treat all human beings with dignity, equality and respect. When we look at any other person, we do not see the label but the image of God. We see someone created by God, addressed by God, accountable to God, loved by God, valued, and evaluated by God.
Nothing that we despise in other men is inherently absent from ourselves. We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or don’t do, and more in light of what they suffer.
I am impressed that when the Son of God became a human being he played by the rules, harsh rules: small towns do not treat kindly young boys who grow up with questionable paternity.
Father God, open our eyes so we can see those that you send our way to be our teachers, remove from our minds those preconceived ideas that would blind us to the lessons you would have us learn. Remove from our hearts any prejudice that would place barriers between us and the blessings you wish to pour out through our brothers and sisters in Christ. Keep us forever teachable through your gentle conviction and encouragement.
Christ died for all men not just the ones you know and like.
I remember once hearing Whipple, of Minnesota, so well known as “The Apostle of the Indians,” utter these beautiful words: “For thirty years I have tried to see the face of Christ in those with whom I differed.” When this spirit actuates us we shall be preserved at once from a narrow bigotry and an easy-going tolerance, from passionate vindictiveness and everything that would mar or injure our testimony for Him who came not to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.