Having looked into the tearful eyes of parents whose children have abandoned the Faith, I have learned there are a million miles between our children “going through the motions” in reference to their spiritual lives versus our children possessing hearts that dictate their actions. In this column, I plan to share with you what I hope to instill in the hearts of my own children and those whom I love.
It is refreshing and a blessing that young children are color blind. Spend a few minutes at a local park and watch small children playing together—they don’t notice skin color. Children are quick to accept and quick to identify their new playmate as a “friend,” but slow to notice color. Sadly, by age 7-10, children begin to notice, as witnessed by changes in behavior. Whether this perception is initiated from parents or other children is not clear, but these “differences” are sometimes translated into how they treat one another.
This difference often becomes more noticeable in adults—sometimes even within the church. Sadly, some congregations remain deliberately segregated. While we preach about diversity and everyone having a special role in the body of Christ, we may not always promote or celebrate diversity—because for many it is not comfortable. It would be a shame if pulpits heralded messages about loving all people, while dark hallways echoed the sounds of racial slurs and jokes. It is possible for Christians to use terms like “brothers and sisters in the faith,” while treating individuals of different color like “step-families.”
Teens will see this dichotomy if they hear people promoting equality while they witness deliberate segregation in the church. They will listen and know that the words of Christians don’t necessarily match their actions. Perhaps through the years many congregations have been mentally labeled “hypocrites” by teens who find this behavior repugnant.
Here’s what I intend on teaching my children about skin color and racism.
There is no question that the Bible teaches there is only one race—the human race. God created mankind in His image and in His likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). Humans were the pinnacle of His creative activities. The Bible clearly states that all of the lineage of humanity came through one woman, Eve. She is defined as the “mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20). Never forget that we are all related—going back first to Noah and his family (Genesis 7:7,13; 1 Peter 3:20), and ultimately to Adam and Eve (Genesis 2).
Whatever the color of someone’s skin, remember that he has a soul that is precious to God. Never forget that God desires all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). During your life you will hear individuals—even Christians—begin conversations by saying, “I’m not racist, but…” But what?! Paul declared, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:28-29).
When David—one of your favorite Biblical heroes—was about to be anointed the next king, we learned in reference to his brother, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees;for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart’” (1 Samuel 16:7). I pray that you will do likewise and look inward instead of outward.
There may be times you hear Christians whom you admire of one color or another utter hateful generalizations against people of a different color. I encourage you not to give ear to this kind of talk. One wonders if these individuals secretly believe (or hope) that there will be a Heaven for each individual race? Never forget Christ is the Savior of all people—no matter what their skin looks like. Do what you can to bridge mankind together. Don’t allow the hypocrisy of others to turn you away from your Creator. I pray that you will teach your children that there really is only one race. While you don’t remember it today, there were many nights that you were rocked to sleep with me or your mom singing, “Jesus loves the little children, All the children of the world, Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.” Live it and pass it on.