Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What Color is God's Skin?

Our friend Neema (nay-mah) passed away last week. She was 35 y.o. and the only truly single person I've ever met here, because she was slightly handicapped. She had polio as a child, and the left side of her body was affected: she limped and had trouble getting into cars that were high off the ground (like most 4x4 vehicles owned by missionaries!), and her hand was twisted. In recent years she was quite sickly, tho I never knew exactly what with; she was always on the prayer list at church. They always referred to it as her sickness, tho I doubt it was still polio. She also had bad gum disease and therefore, terrible teeth.

So I told Jim that I've been picturing what she looks like now that she lives in heaven: standing up straight, with 2 strong arms and a full set of straight gleaming teeth. I imagine she is quite lovely now. He then asked me the funniest question: "Do you still see her as black?" What does that have to do with beauty?? Of course, she's still black!

Now lest you think my DH is a racist, he hastened to explain that his question was not based on which skin color is the most beautiful, but he was speculating whether something which has so divided people on earth will still exist in heaven.

I argued, "How else will we know each other if we don't basically resemble ourselves?" and...

"If God were to make us all one color, which would he choose?" To prefer one over another would simply justify the prejudices of this earth. Unless he went totally far-out and opted for green, purple, blue...

In heaven we will see the wrong in all our prejudices and not feel them anymore. Not all prejudices are based on skin, anyway, so changing that alone would be rather arbitrary. I reminded Jim of a pastor friend we have here, definitely a believer whom I expect to meet in heaven, who is clearly prejudiced against another ethnic group. They and he are the same color, but different tribe, and he is constantly making racist generalizations about them, something he has inherited from his culture, and a blind spot in his life. To him, his remarks are not racist, because he believes them to be true. That's the essence of prejudice, isn't it, the conviction that your beliefs cannot be racist because they are founded on truth?

There's a song that goes like this:
"What color is God's skin?
What color is God's skin?
I said, 'It's black, brown, it's yellow,
It is red and it's white,
Everyone's the same in the good Lord's sight.'"

Like the writer of that song, I don't believe heaven will consist of eliminating our differences, but rather of rejoicing in them.

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