How do we raise our kids in today’s world to love like Jesus by not looking at race, but the heart? It makes me so sad and angry to see all the divisiveness and racial atrocities that have happened. Whether Black, Asian, Hispanic, White, whatever the race, I pray we do not look down on someone based on their skin color or background, and that if we do, we would ask for forgiveness, and for grace to look at people as the Lord does. “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7)
After teaching 5 years at a predominantly African-American school focused on racial reconciliation, living in Guatemala for a year through the Reconciliation and Mission program, and having great friendships with people of different cultures, it is beautiful when we can learn from one another and just be. Just be ourselves. Connect and share life with one another. Open and honest conversations were a part of our reconciliation focus, and they can be very helpful. While I know many people have far more understanding than myself on the subject, here’s one small example: While I taught 4th grade, the students and I had an open conversation about race. It was welcome in my classroom. One of the girls shared a story about white people and said to me, “Well, I’m not talking about you, Ms. Alison, I don’t see you as white” (Alison was my maiden name). She saw past color because she knew me. It took knowing me to begin breaking down the walls of stereotype and judgment. She saw me as a person, and not a “white girl.” That was a beautiful moment. Relationships make that happen. They start to strip down the walls we have built up.
So, how do we raise our kids to love others beyond appearance? We teach our kids to look to the heart of a person. We teach them that God has created each person uniquely and that we should celebrate that. We teach them that we are to love others who are different and the same. We model it. Our attitude toward people different than us is reflected to our kids. As we interact and build relationships with people of different cultures, races, ages, and abilities, they will see it as part of the norm. If we see a person for who they are, and not their skin color or socio-economic status, they will also.
I assume that’s what most of us want. To be seen for who we are, on the inside. We are all very different, but we also are all very similar: every one of us is made in God’s image (GN 1:27). What a blessing to get to learn and grow from one another. Let’s instill 1 John 4:16 in the hearts of our children so they see people as people and can can love others with the love of Jesus: “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” Revelation 7:9