By Nathan C. Vance
I’m a passionate person. I don’t think of myself as unreasonable by any means but I can definitely become opinionated given the right subject. And my parents love to laugh and remind me how easily principled I can become when I feel that I’m correct in my beliefs. I’ve been this way since I could talk, apparently. And, as I think about it, I’m glad. It doesn’t bother me at all that the things that are important to me are built on a rock rather than on shifting sand. I’m glad that I’m not a person who is easily swayed. I hope that most people are that way about something, even if not the same things that I passionately defend, but it gives me comfort to think that every person cares enough about something to dig their heels in.
If you have ever visited this site, you probably know the areas that I’m passionate about. Professional wrestling is a passion of mine. Professional sports are a passion of mine. Quality music and movies are a passion of mine. And, more than any of these, my faith in the person Jesus Christ is my passion.
His life, his love, his message, and his power are not topics that I argue about, however. I simply give my opinion. If it differs from the opinion of someone else, then I move on. I never want to cloud the goodness of my savior by getting in the way. His life’s work is well documented and easily accessible. His ability to penetrate the hearts of humankind is obvious and, while I hope that the entire world comes to know him and submit to his authority, I realize that I can only shine his light in the darkness. I passionately wish that all who professed their belief in him, or more, their love for him, could do the same.
I wrote an article recently entitled “Today.” In it, I documented many of the horrors that have plagued our young nation and how racism, especially that perpetuated in the name of Christ, is wrong. Today, I want to take a minute to further that point. First, I want to pass along something I saw on Twitter. This was posted specifically to undermine the white supremacist element that has recently garnered the attention of our national media but it is a far more transcendent point. Jesus was born a Jew. He was Middle Eastern. His features would have reflected his nationality. Larger point: Jesus wasn’t white. As these white supremacists chanted the destruction of Jews like had happened during the Hitler-era Nazi party in 1940s Germany, they were speaking out against the very person they claimed to be their savior. Even larger point: Jesus wasn’t the real inspiration behind their hatred.
As I saw the post, my mind drifted back to the movie, Malcolm X, starring Denzel Washington. I wasn’t alive during the life of black Islamic leader Malcolm X so I can’t speak to the film’s accuracy in portraying him, but I was struck in first watching the movie at his continuous quote as he spoke out against the portrayal of a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jesus. Of course, I found it odd how often he referenced Jesus, period, being a Muslim but, moreover, how adamantly against this picture of Jesus he was. I’ve never seen Jesus portrayed this way but in the world before I was born, I can now imagine that this would have been the picture of Jesus. Though Malcolm X’s ideals and mine disagree at many levels, I can say that he was completely accurate in his hatred of that image of Jesus.
The larger reason is because, as I picture Jesus, I see all of humanity in his beautiful face. There was a video I saw recently of Jim Carrey painting extraordinary works of art. He had one of Jesus that I loved. It was exactly how I would paint Jesus. It was the face of all mankind with both black and white represented along with every color in between. I didn’t know the comedian was also a talented artist and I don’t know if he is a believer in Jesus or not, but I know that he could only see this through divine revelation. I hope that everyone can see that painting. It’s marvelous.
His portrayal of Jesus isn’t unfounded either. The Bible tells us this in black and white and, as long as we look for it, this truth is easy to see. Of course, we see clearly Jesus’ love for Jew and Gentile alike in John 4 when he meets the Samaritan woman at the well. There was a long and ugly history between Jews and Samaritans during this time, which the woman hints at. The strain between the two groups was every bit as hostile as the tension among races and cultures in the modern U.S. Jesus never acted superior to her as other Jews would have. He never even condemned her for a lifestyle of sin; he simply offered her the greatest gift there is— his salvation. We should all wake up and read this story everyday and eventually learn from his example.
In Luke 10, Jesus again makes reference to the quality of the person beyond the outward differences in the story of “The Good Samaritan.” In the parable, he shows a Samaritan coming to the aid of a Jew in need when many of his own race passed by without any offer of assistance. Many points were made in the parable, but the most obvious was that how we treat each other is far more important than what we look like.
Finally, we see Jesus’ love for all mankind regardless of race in an unconventional place. In Genesis 37, the story of Joseph begins. We immediately learn of his father’s great love for his son. He famously gives his beloved son a coat of many colors. Has it ever seemed odd to anyone else that this seemingly insignificant detail was included? I mean, seriously, who cares what kind of coat he had? Later, we learn that Joseph has visions of saving his people. Later still, we find that Joseph’s dreams were correct and, during a famine, he becomes a savior to his people as he brings them into Egypt so they don’t starve. So how does that pertain to Jesus, you might wonder? It’s foreshadowing. I spent a lot of time reading and meditating on this scripture and even discussing it with someone who knows the word of God a great deal better than do I. The answer was so obvious. Like Joseph, Jesus came to save his people. And the coat of many colors that Joseph got from his father represents the gift of humanity in all of its brilliant colors, that Jesus came to save. It’s powerful! It’s wonderful! It’s another glimpse into the amazing nature of Jesus Christ.
As I’m typing this, something even greater comes to me. While racial differences are our most obvious separators, there is so much more to each of us than the color of our skin. Our personalities and backgrounds give us added layers of color and vibrancy. Each of us has a unique color in this way. And in spite of that, regardless of our first name or our last, what city, state, or country we come from, whether we are left, right, or somewhere in between, rich or poor, artsy or athletic, and regardless of any other way we define ourselves, we all make up Jesus’ coat of many colors. We are all his people. We are none immune from his incredible love. And if we let him, every one of us individually is the person that he came and died and rose again in order to save. I pray that one day we, with all of our incredible colors, can come together, united by Jesus’ amazing love.
So I’m passionate about this, shouldn’t we all be? Wouldn’t this make our world a better place? I’m not here to argue, but I definitely think so.