Yesterday I drove down to get the mail. As I drove back home, I passed a little black girl who lives in our neighborhood. She waved an exuberant hello as I drove past, and I returned the wave. She made me smile. That’s when children came to mind.
I’ve been thinking like an adult for the last year, listening and learning and praying intensely, to understand race relations in our country. Fancy, big-people words like “critical race theory” and “convergence theory” and “reparations” have become part of my vocabulary.
But what about children?
During the school year, I teach Bible to third and fourth graders. Over the years, I’ve learned to choose my vocabulary carefully. I don’t water down the Scriptures, but I explain biblical precepts with simple language that kids understand. The benefit of this is that it forces me to absorb large concepts about God and life into my own heart and then work to funnel them into child-sized language.
You would be delighted to see the hunger children have to know the truth of God’s word. You would be shocked to hear the clear and brilliant thinking of children, when it comes to real-life issues.
This is what we need most nowadays: simple, biblical conversations about God and life, instead of collegiate-level theories. Here’s what Bible lessons on race relations would sound like, if I were shaping them to present to a third grader:
God made all people in his image, which means all people are really special. When we get to know different kinds of people in this world, it helps us get to know God better. And all people have the same great, great, great, great, great, great grandparents: Adam and Eve. (Genesis 1:27)
God doesn’t see people’s outsides. He looks at what’s inside of their hearts. We should copy him and stop worrying about what people look like on the outside but see who they really are inside. (1 Samuel 16:7)
God gets mad and turns his back on people who think and act like they’re better than other people. (James 4:6) It’s not okay with God for us to think we’re better than someone else because of our skin color.
God loves it when we treat others like they’re more important than us. (Philippians 2:3) Let’s treat people from other countries and with different skin color like they’re more important than us.
People are mean to each other because we have hearts that turn away from the love and goodness of God, and we do what is wrong and selfish. (Romans 3:23)
We have hearts of stone toward one another. Only God can do surgery and give us new, soft hearts that are kind and humble and loving and good to all. If we want our country to be full of love and kindness, then we need new hearts. (Ezekiel 36:26)
If we’re going to talk to one another, our words should build others up and encourage them and help them. (Ephesians 4:29)
If we see someone who is crying because he has been treated poorly because of his skin color, we should cry with him. (Romans 12:15)
If we see someone who has been treated cruelly or unfairly, we should stop and help him. (Luke 10:25-37)
We have to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. That’s the second greatest commandment in the whole Bible! Our neighbors will be all different colors on the outside. Our neighbors might eat different foods than we do or dress differently than we do or speak different languages than we do, but we must obey God’s great command to love them. (Mark 12:31)
In heaven, all of the different kinds of people in the world are going to bow down and worship the Lord. European people will be bowing down next to people from Africa and Asia and North America and South America and Australia. In the end, all we’re going to care about is how beautiful and wonderful Jesus is. (Revelation 15:4)
Here is an honest question: do followers of Jesus need academicians and theorists, to teach us how to live well in this world with one another? There’s no shortage of relational insight and instruction in the Bible. Can’t we open our Bibles, read God’s precepts with the faith of children, and obey what we find there?
Consider the LORD’s declaration in Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV):
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
Neither are your ways my ways.
As the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are my ways higher than your ways,
And my thoughts than your thoughts.
The theories of men are not the theories of God. God’s thoughts on race are so much higher than critical race theory. Let us confess that we are children and barely know anything about race, in comparison to what God thinks about it. Let’s lean our little brains on his higher thoughts and his higher ways. Let us determine to hold fast to the Bible as our source of wisdom.