The message of Jesus is quite clear. Jesus looked on men and women as persons of sacred worth regardless of their race, birth, color, gender, religion, politics, or social and economic situation. At the age of 15, I invited my African-American friend, Tony, to join me in worship. Tony had been attending our youth group on occasion, but had never joined me in worship. One of my former Sunday school teachers approached me that morning with his race snobbery and suggested that Tony did not belong at our church. “This is why there are two churches here in our town,” he told me, “a Second Baptist Church and a First Baptist Church, and we are the First and he is should be in the Second.” I shall never forget that moment. Fortunately, there was another Sunday school teacher who helped me understand that we are all still “half-Christian.”
E. Stanley Jones shared a story concerning the origin of the white man which he heard in India during his long missionary work there. The essence of the story is, “God asked the man who is now white what he had done with his brother, and he turned white with fear.”
Every day the pious Pharisee of New Testament times thanked God that he was not born “a woman, a leper, or a Gentile.” If Islam had been around then, I’m sure they would have thanked God that they were not born a Muslim! Some of these Pharisees were called “the bleeding Pharisees.” They went around with their eyes on the ground lest they should look upon a woman. With their eyes on the ground they often walked into posts and walls—thus, the term “bleeding Pharisees.” We still have a lot of Pharisees around who thank God they are not a woman. Even Jesus’ disciples returning from the Samaritan village where Jesus encountered the woman at the well “marveled that he talked with a woman.”
America—this land I love—offers the possibility of a new world. Here, in this society, all the nations of the earth have gathered and have become one nation “under God” (supposedly). The blood of all the world is in our veins (check out your DNA). We are the world—in microcosm. If we can live together as one family, then we provide the rest of the world with hope. For if we can live harmoniously in microcosm, it could be possible in the macrocosm.
|"Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brothers|
and sisters to dwell together in unity!" (Ps. 133:1)
The current threat to this possibility and hope is that we still have a lot of “bleeding Pharisees” who are looking down at the ground, and thus banging their heads into posts and walls (or building them) “white with fear” because they know what they have done with their brothers and sisters.