Over the weekend my husband and I had the privilege of leading several workshops at the National Capital Christian Education Conference in Maryland, just outside of Washington, DC. We had each spent weeks writing our own material and seeking out God to help us balance our testimony and teaching His truth. We are filled with a unique kind of satisfaction (and exhaustion) after the two days of workshops: thankfulness that God presented the opportunity, humility that we were able to teach effectively, and appreciation that our difficult past is now a lesson of hope for others.
There is something else we took away from this weekend, and that is an appreciation that Jesus gives us colorblindness. Well maybe not exactly blindness. More like transparency.
The conference was attended by primarily black pastors and people who belong to mostly black churches in the Washington, DC area. If you’re unfamiliar with DC outside of the political realm, which most Americans are, DC is sometimes referred to as the Oreo city: a primarily black city with a white center – i.e. the capital, White House, etc. I’m not saying the cookie metaphor is great (although I do love Oreos), but it gives you a visual perspective. And it explains a lot about the pain that permeates that city – and I’m not talking about the government.
For decades we’ve witnessed so much hurt and brokenness due to a lack of colorblindness, and particularly in the last several years, as the past and the present have swirled together with intensity. I believe color sensitivity is an issue that is big and complex. I believe it is a complicated social issue with great heavy baggage that will take decades to heal. BUT…
Let me tell you something. Let me share this great warmth of my heart with you. As one of maybe a dozen white people at this conference of a several hundred, I have never felt more like my skin color didn’t matter. I have never felt so welcome and loved – and transparent in a profoundly loving way. As Mike and I walked through the hallways, we were greeted with open hearts and smiles wider than the Mason Dixon line.
No one listened to my testimony and my struggles and commented about my privilege. (Though they might have wanted to say something about my tattered jeans!) They treated me exactly as I deserve to be treated: as a woman who loves Jesus; as a woman who fails constantly; as a woman who is being shaped and pruned and molded by faith; and as a woman who has suffered at the hands of someone else’s free will. Just like them. And probably just like you.
It reminded me that so much of the hurt we are experiencing today is more of a faith issue, and less of an anything-else issue.
Those anything-else issues include color, the President, our baggage from the past, our expectations of the future, and this notion that we are meant to put ourselves first, to name just a few. When we are really lifting up Jesus instead of lifting up ourselves, we are more brothers and sisters in Christ and less brothers and sisters of different colors. We are given the great filter of transparency – so that we can see through color and into hearts, just as God sees through our flaws and His perfect creation.
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothes yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave for free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Galatians 3:26-28
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