God’s world is beautiful. Or, rather, it was made to be. When God created everything in it, He said “It is good.” (Genesis 1)
But people are especially beautiful because God made people in His image. All people. All races. All ethnicities. All colors. All languages. All cultures. After God made man and woman, he said “It is very good.” (Genesis 1:31) But after the fall and over time, God’s creation became corrupt and His people turned from Him. Every person, every race, every ethnicity, every color, every language, and every culture, which beautiful in its own way is also corrupt and evil in its own way.
“What then? Are we [insert your ethnicity] any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all are under sin, as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.’” (Romans 3:9-12)
Although I did not become a Christian until later in life, God gave me experiences through my family as a child to see a lot of the world and love it for its beauty early on. Growing up in Alaska, any trip was an airplane ride, so my parents saw that as an opportunity to travel to foreign countries when I was as young as 2 years old. Oh, the stories! But think of the impact seeing different faces and cultures impressed upon me as a young child: none of it was strange. All of it was fascinating. I took that love of peoples, different places, and unique cultures with me throughout my life. And this is a love and appreciation I want to pass down to my children (even if we don’t have as many opportunities to travel directly).
With a Biblical worldview: God made all peoples in His image. Each race and ethnicity is unique and uniquely bears the image of God. Each language learns about and worships God in different ways. Each nation has a unique history that God weaves Himself into. I find it truly fascinating to unlock God’s heart and pursuit of each people group. And He will! The Bible is clear about that.
“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created Him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:27
And while the fall made it so sin and brokenness entered into the picture, God still made people in His image and sent his son, Jesus Christ into the world “so that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.” (John 3:16) God pursues all races and ethnicities and cultures and nations for His glory! He desires that “none shall perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). And He will accomplish that task as seen in two key verses from John’s revelation of heaven:
“By Your blood You ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation…” Revelation 5:9
“After this I [John] looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne [in heaven] and before the Lamb [Jesus Christ], clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands” Revelation 7:9
Each ethnicity and race is beautiful and a reflection of God. Teaching children to appreciate every race, ethnicity, and language is a God-given task. Because one day we will be in that multitude, worshipping Jesus with a throng of every color possible.
And the truth is, our children are not “color blind”. But they will mimic what their parents purposefully say or accidently convey when it comes to races different than their own. They are little observers, watching, and seeing. Do we ask honoring questions to people of different peoples? Do we ignore the color of someone’s skin altogether? Do we honor ethnic heritage in our cities, our school, our dinner table? Or do we stick to “our own?” It is a difficult question we need to ask ourselves: What thoughts do we have and how are we passing down those thoughts and beliefs to our children?
In conversations with my friends of minority ethnicities, their response is usually that the most honoring thing to do is to seek to love and learn about their culture and heritage. Honor the differences with a heart posture of truly wanting to learn more. So I encourage you to invite one of your children’s friend’s family over for a meal time this summer. Purposefully choose to invite a family that is of a different ethnicity than your own. Ask them to bring a favorite dish from their culture. Ask if it would be okay to learn more about the country or region they are from and be genuinely interested to hear! Be a good listener, don’t interject your preconceived notions or opinions. Ask what they like to do for fun. Do they still have family in that country that they visit? Do they speak a different language that you? Ask the kids to teach you how to say “hello” and then give an honest try at it and be ready to giggle with them at yourself!
Another fun idea is to go to a cultural festival in your town this summer. Many cities have beautiful cultural festival days to go explore! Communicate to your children that this is going to be a “great adventure” to go see, smell, taste, and learn. Encourage them to try new things – and be ready to try new things yourself! Your children will mimic the attitude you go in with. If you are nervous, ask a friend or neighbor who is more familiar with that culture to go with you as your guide. But there is nothing to fear at these fun festivals and lots of new things to see. Remember, it is all about the attitude you go with and you never know, your children may develop a love for an ethnic food you’d never thought to try before!
Go eat at an ethnic restaurant and intentionally ask your hosts more about each dish, how they are prepared and where they are from. As long as the restaurant isn’t too busy, typically they enjoy sharing details of the dishes and the region from which they originated. Most of the time, people do not ask. Most of the time, patrons ignore the waiters and host and chefs unless something is wrong. As a believer, choose to be intentionally different and show them that you care. Because God cares. You see them because God sees them. Get to know them as people and look for ways that God made them beautifully different.
If this is uncomfortable for you, I encourage you to lean into it. Ask yourself why. Listen to what your emotions are revealing and what thoughts you are having. But then compare those thoughts to the Bible. Are you looking through a Biblical worldview (link to 01 Why Worldview Intro article) at God’s creation, at His image bearers?
A note on sin and culture: every culture has aspects of it that are not God-honoring. “We have all fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). Here is where Christian parents need to differ from non-Christian parents in appreciating other cultures: we are not to take part in worship of other gods or activities that are not God-honoring. Be savvy as a parent and ask questions about rituals, symbols, even toys within different cultures. It is not something to go into with fear, merely something to be cautious and curious about. If you are unsure, stay tuned! I’ll help you walk through this in a God-honoring way, loving people but hating the sin.