My God is colorblind. It is not that He doesn’t know our race. He knows everything. It’s that He doesn’t care. Skin color is not His concern, hearts are. Whether black or white, what God sees are men and women created in His image. He doesn’t see a black or white man, He sees a man. He doesn’t see a black or white woman, He sees a woman. Why can’t we? Over the last several weeks, I’ve watched with interest the firestorm surrounding the tragic death of Trayvon Martin. It is no doubt a sad story of a senseless death of someone too soon. In this case, it is of the death of a young black man.
On April 6th, I traveled back home to Birmingham, Alabama from a meeting in Tampa, Florida. On most occasions when I fly, I bring plenty to do and keep to myself. On the connection that day from Atlanta to Birmingham I was seated by a young military soldier named Reggie. Reggie was from Birmingham, but currently stationed in Germany and soon to deploy to Afghanistan. He was home visiting his family for nine days. His wife’s name is Brittney and he has a son named Reggie III. Brittney is pregnant. Reggie has some big plans while home, a lot to do in a short period of time, particularly considering that when he leaves he may not see them again for over a year. I hope that turns out not to be the case. Reggie and I talked about a lot. He was a high school athlete and competed against the school where my kids attend, so we talked about that. We talked about Alabama and Auburn, plans for his career and our families. We had some things in common. But one of the things we didn’t have in common was skin color. Reggie is black, and yes, I noticed that just as I’m sure he noticed that I’m white. But it didn’t matter. As we talked I thought about the Trayvon Martin situation and wondered if being stationed in Germany had shielded him from awareness of the case. I certainly thought the media exposure had to be less. Just that morning, I had seen an article in USA Today about how differently blacks and whites perceived the role race played in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. I wondered what Reggie thought, but I didn’t ask. The best part of our conversation on that trip was not about high school recollections, Alabama and Auburn or even about future plans, but about faith. Reggie asked me my favorite Bible verse. I told him 2 Corinthians 5:21. His favorite verse is Philippians 4:13.
Unfortunately, there are many sad stories like Trayvon Martin’s throughout our country each year, but this one has taken on a life of its own because of the irresponsible actions of a relative few. I reject the notion that the majority of people in our country, regardless of race, see race as the cause for this tragedy. I’m not naïve; racism was certainly part of our past, a shameful and sinful part and it occurs today, and where it does, and in whatever form it takes, it is still shameful and sinful. Over these weeks I’ve watched as media, Hollywood celebrities, athletes, so-called Reverends, various organizations and even our local, state and national leaders have done nothing but inflame this situation. I’ve watched as a tragic event has been used for political purposes to stir and spread fear. We live in a country of laws, and justice should be sought in this case as it would in any other similar situation. In fact, Zimmerman has been charged and this case will move forward in a court of law where the facts will be litigated. I’m not for those who seek justice for Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman in this case, but I am against people seeking to serve up punishment, whether by threatening bounties or hateful, divisive speech, all disguised as a call for justice. This wasn’t a call for justice; this was hate and nothing less. Even now, “haters” from all sides are gathering in Florida to fan the flames of this racial divide. Why is it that so often, attributes of God, His wrath and His justice are attributes we like to deny Him, but can’t wait to pour out on others? We should thank God that He is not that impatient with us.
I know that I will never be able to live Reggie’s experiences and he can never live mine, but for what made us different, race among them, cannot compare to what unites us, faith in Jesus Christ. It’s impossible for us not to see race when we look at others, particularly when we are bombarded daily by various groups and a media that seem to thrive on disunity. It’s also impossible because all too often we see only with our eyes and not our hearts. The problem in our country is our relationship with our Savior. As great as some want to make the racial divide, this one is greater. Healing the divide between God and man could go a long way in healing all other divides. I am convinced that if we would see more of Christ, we would see less of color.
I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again, but I was a blessed to meet Reggie Marshall. It was a twofold blessing because in meeting him, I got to know a brother, not a black brother, but a Christian brother. It was also a blessing in the sense that it reinforced to me how great and loving our God is in knowing that when He looks at Reggie or at me, He doesn’t see His black or white child. He sees only His child. My God is colorblind and I am thankful that He is.
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Originally posted April 2012. Our unity is first and foremost about who we are in Christ.