From my 2009 Journal. I think I’ve uncovered a misconception I’ve held for too long. In my mind, I have a stereotype of the Pharisees that says they were all hypocrites, bad leaders, and out to get Jesus. And many of them were. But, unfairly, I’ve lumped every religious ruler in Jesus’ day into the same lump of clay. Sure there was Nicodemus, but in my mind he was the great exception.
When I read Luke 13:31, it broke up that myth. Some Pharisees came up and said to him, “Go away from here, for Herod is determined to kill you.” Apparently, there were some religious leaders who were genuinely concerned for Jesus’ welfare.
One day Jesus ate a meal at the house of one of the prominent ruling Pharisees. The other Pharisees and teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (15:1). It was a big party, and Jesus had lots to say to the guests. He exposed their sin and faulty thinking, no words minced or held back. But maybe this host was a genuine seeker of truth—inviting Jesus to a social event in spite of the criticism of his peers.
Today? I fight the tendency to lump all our political leaders in the same mold: they’re all corrupt; they’re all self-serving. Not so. There are godly ones as well as scoundrels.
I wonder what other group prejudices I have been harboring.
When I was a little girl growing up in Africa, all of the Sunday school papers that arrived from the U.S. depicted Jesus as white, Caucasian. That seemed quite normal to me till one day my white friend’s mom handed me a stack of black-and-white Bible story photos to color for her children’s class. The flesh-colored crayon just didn’t seem right for Jesus’ face, and so I chose brown.
How do you perceive Jesus? What does He look like to you? We know He was Jewish and probably had dark skin and dark eyes (darker than I am, lighter than the Nigerians). Do Africans see Him as black? Do Asians picture Him as having their skin tone? In our prejudices and comfort, do we view Him as being culturally the same as we are? Would I identify with or be drawn to a black Jesus? An Asian Jesus? Would a Hispanic view Him as a God of love if He were Caucasian?
Does it matter how I picture Him? In heaven will we all see Him as He really is? Or will we each see Him differently through our own eyes? Personally, I think we’ll all see Him the same—because we will know the truth. Race will no longer be an issue. And we’ll all share a heavenly culture.
Visual: On earth, it looks like each culture is separated into different rooms or cubicles. We can visit each others’ rooms if we like. We can even marry or be adopted into different rooms. But the groups continue to remain segregated for the most part by race or culture.
But in heaven? There will be no partitions, no walls, rooms or cubicles. Just unity. Why? Our focus will no longer be on each other. Our focus will all be on Him. Why not start practicing that now?