"What colour is he?" I asked myself. Unable to sleep that stifling night, I got thinking about someone in our mission. Day after day, I saw him working diligently with the maintenance crew. Yet, that night, I could not envision his skin colour, nor that of the other workers, all of mixed racial origin. That was years ago. Yet, I have never forgotten my astonishment. Somehow, I had acquired a perceptual deficit: colour-blindness.
Then, there was that episode at our village post office. I was at the wicket, trying to conduct business with one arm while balancing an infant in the other. This wasn't working. I noticed a tall, burly man behind me — with free arms! For me, those strong arms were truly more noticeable than his dark African features. I handed him my daughter. As he tenderly took her into his arms, his face beamed. He seemed honoured to be entrusted with this child. In that instance, we were all happy, as strangers momentarily united by our mutual humanness and our shared longing to be blessed by one another.
Since those years, I've wondered how my colour-blindness set in, how I became desensitized to obvious features like skin colour. This was no virtue, I realized. We naturally pay less attention to what matters less to us. Perhaps that's the point in the following texts:
Galatians 3:28 – There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (NIV)
Colossians 3:11 – Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. (NIV)
Surely, this is about acquired "colour-blindness" — or rather, dimmed attentiveness to features which differentiate us, whether by race, gender, religion, social status, or other identity. Those features tend to divide and alienate us — even to the point of destruction. That happens today, just as in antiquity. It threatens the church today as in the early church.
Surely, Christ is still the only way out of this destructive propensity. Surely, Christ is still the One who can save us from ourselves! For in Him, we have a new identity — the one that matters most to us. In Him, our earthly identities no longer define us. They matter less. In Him, we're free to experience our mutual human nature and brokenness. In Him, we acknowledge together our souls' cries for the One who alone can fully love, forgive, and affirm us. In Him, we are free to bless and nurture one another. For in Him, dividing walls of hostility are demolished. We become one through our mutual union with Him. This is the unity that enabled God's universal church to survive and expand across centuries, nations, and people groups — blessing the world in the midst of countless divisive forces.
Prayer: Lord, dampen our hypersensitivity to the distinguishing marks of diverse identities around us. Give us an increased sensitivity to You as the One who matters in all and above all. Keep us in Your grace, honouring one another — and thereby honouring Your name. Amen.
Listen to this devotional
Listen while you read: "O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go" (Lyrics)