Light Skin (Mark 7:20-23)

“Let’s grab lunch!”

When I was a resident, I attended a national pathology conference held in a major American city. In attendance were several of my co-residents and I made plans to have lunch with one of them. During our meal, our conversation soon turned to her childhood. She grew up in this city where the conference was being held. Historically, it was known for its racial tension. I had previously visited her city and noted the divide before and now. As we discussed the issues that plagued the city, she provided a different perspective. She was an African-American and attended a school that was predominately African-American. She surprised me by describing the racism that existed within her school. She described one episode when she was in elementary school.

“We had a production of ‘Snow White’. The lead and best roles always went to the light skinned black girls. I wanted the role but I was told I was too dark.”

“Wow! So you had to deal with racism from outside and within your own community?”

She nodded and sighed as I shook my head. Sadly, this type of racism occurs within many races and cultures. As a Japanese-American, I was chagrined to learn from my eight grade Japanese language teacher that some native Japanese held a similar disparaging view of Okinawan-Japanese.

We are barraged by social media and the popular press screaming for inclusiveness and demonizing various racial and cultural groups for their past transgressions and alleged continued grievances. Yet, shouldn’t we hear an equally loud chorus when these same racist and exclusive attitudes are directed inward upon one’s own people?

We should embrace diversity and do everything to break down the barriers that hinder or disenfranchise any group by the color of their skin, socioeconomic status, or cultural upbringing. What happens when the barriers are erected within one’s own people? It dramatically illustrates our problem is deeper than our skin color, it is a problem of the heart. 

And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” 

Mark 7:20-23 (NLT)

We cannot change society only with social programs, laws, and awareness campaigns.  It is not the external changes alone, the most powerful change needs to come from within us. Jesus Christ taught this when He spoke to His followers. Our lives need to embrace the life transforming change that only God can enact. If we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we need to be salt and light to a dying world. The late evangelist Ravi Zacharias eloquently wrote, “A Christian in society is like salt to water-society can never absorb one without being changed itself. “

Amen.

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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