Earlier this semester, I took a racial prejudice test through a Harvard study for one of my classes. The test used words and pictures to compare preferences for Caucasian or Arab-Muslim people. My results surprised me.
Your data suggest a slight automatic preference for Arab Muslims compared to Other People. This surprised me because even though I’ve worked with Arabs and have a big interest in aid work in the Middle East, I distinctly remember being surprised by my racial prejudices while I was working in Central Asia this summer. Most (if not all) of my assumptions were proved wrong when I got to interact with real people, which was a great experience.
We had an interesting discussion about perceiving Jesus as a manly man (not just a humble, feminine fellow) in my College Connect study group a little while after I took that test. As the video speaker pulled out scripture references, what I was struck with again and again is how the name of Jesus cannot be separated from his love for the nations. The speaker didn’t outright point it out, but it was there in almost every verse.
I think that’s how Christians read most of the time. The nations are there, but we don’t pay attention. They take a backseat to Jesus’ manliness or the redemption of the resurrection–or whatever the sermon point is for the evening.
Maybe it’s just me, but Jesus’ strength as a man and a leader is so much more beautiful when I see him riding his Revelation horse to the defense and justice of all people.
Maybe it’s just me, but redemption means so much more when it’s not a story about just me. When Jesus and I stop being the main characters in His sacrifice, I can see the scope of God’s love in a way that is so much deeper, so much more complex and beautiful, than just a simple girl and a handful of people who are just like her.
God loves diversity. And he spells it out in his tale of redemption. Look at this:
When the angels appear to the shepherds–the first to know of the birth of Jesus–here’s what they say (think of it as a birth announcement):
“Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.”
When Jesus first is presented in the temple, an old man, Simeon, sees baby Jesus and begins to prophesy:
I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!
Jesus’ last commandment on earth continues in the same way as he sums up the Gospels for his followers:
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”
God loves all people. I don’t think we can even begin to grasp that until we interact with different people (different in education, background, religion, politics and ethnicity).
I felt a little surprised and prideful about my results from a Harvard test. But tonight I feel humbled.
I want to love all people because two thousand years ago God loved them all enough to become human. (Can you imagine–feeling the hay scratching your skin for the first time, feeling the strains of mortality, the limits of a baby’s body? But God created feeling–was it all muted, reduced, painfully 2D to become human? These are things I wonder.)
God loved all these people–people many Christians turn from, people we don’t even know exist, people we scorn and hate–so much that He died.
So much that He rose again.
Not just for me. Not just to give my story hope. Not just to hear my heart worship.
But for the Romanian, the Moghal, the Uighurs, the Acholi–all the people, whose names and histories and cultures are unique, individual, beautiful. They are all the beloved of the Creator.
I want to love all people. Not just because I get the privilege to walk among them (for even a blink of time in the scope of things), not just because I get the chance to see them face to face, not because it’s about my experiences with them at all.
I want to love them because God loved them. Because they are my brothers and sisters as image bearers of Him (albeit sometimes not eternal brothers and sisters yet).
Because the baby in the manger, the man on the cross, and the warrior savior in heaven came for all nations.
(p.s. This post is brought to you by Sleepy and Deep Musings and John Piper’s Bloodlines video.)