Imagine, if you will, not being able to differentiate between reds verses greens or blues verses yellow. Imagine only being able to only see things as gray.
Color Blindness is the inability to see certain colors as they are. The most severe form of color blindness is achromatopsia, where everything appears to be gray. You might think color blindness is rare, but according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, about 1 in 10 men have some form of color blindness. Unfortunately, this condition can limit job opportunities and, because it is typically associated with additional eye problems, it can affect ones way of life in general. Those who are color blind are unable to take in the full beauty of God’s creation.
And yet, so many well-meaning people aspire for us all to be “color blind.”
You’ve probably heard people say that in relation to ethnical and racial diversity they are “color blind.” This often comes as a way to express that they see all people as just people—everyone is the same and they never differentiate between people based on color. I’ve also heard it as a defense against racism, “I’m not racist. I love all people. Actually, I’m color blind.” Well-meaning and probably truly loving people use this phrase often, but in reality, you are not color blind, you don’t need to be color blind and color blindness isn’t something you should be striving for.
Here are five reasons why you should see the beauty of God’s creation in the people he created.
God Created us in His Image
We are all made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). No, we don’t look like Him (John 4:24), but we reflect something about His character. So, if we are his image bearers, instead of pretending there aren’t different ethnicities, we should embrace it.
God created us to look different, and it was not a mistake—He had a purpose in it for His glory. God created us equally, whether we acknowledge this fact or not, so we can start by celebrating that God is the creator and we are the created.
It’s Not Realistic
It’s simply not realistic to be color blind. As an African-American female, I cannot (and have no desire to) erase the fact that I am how God made me. There is no hiding my milky-brown, freckled skin. I am who I am. So, when I walk in a room and I am the only black woman, it’s obvious. We don’t need to pretend.
What I’m not saying is that we need to act awkwardly either—if we’ve embraced that God has created us equally there’s no need for that. The point is if someone who is culturally or ethnically different from you comes around, it is unrealistic and unloving to pretend that you don’t notice.
Culture and Background Affect Who We Are
Often, the color of our skin is tied to our culture. To deny that we are uniquely made by God is to diminish culture and background. To really get to know someone—and thus love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31)—often takes getting to know their culture and background. If we erase color we erase gaining knowledge and potentially understanding someone not like ourselves.
The unfortunate side effect to “color blindness” is that when we see racism in the news or in our backyards, we can minimize the outrage of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We might say or think, Aren’t we past this? Because we have tried to move past color, we’ve minimized our cultural differences, which can lead to a lack of understanding and grace.
We know that Christ redeems history, and for the Christian our ultimate identity is in Christ (2 Cor 5:17). Yet, there is no doubt that our upbringing, family history and culture affects who we are.
All Nations Are in Scripture
One of the most important reasons to see the precious colors of God’s creation on human beings is that God doesn’t erase these distinctions in Scripture. The oft quoted passage in Revelations reveals to us that not only will there be many colors when Jesus returns, but also that these tribes and tongues and nations will be worshipping together (Rev. 5:9; 7:9). This is a beautiful picture of the reconciliation of the Lord, first us to Him and then us to one another. Heaven will be gloriously filled with people of color—all colors.
The Gospel is for All Nations
Probably the most important reason is that the Gospel is for everyone, no matter what they look like or where they come from. God celebrates His creation and His redemption of all people.
The Bible tells us that we sinned greatly, putting everything out of order (Gen. 3). We also know that throughout all of Scripture, God was working toward the redemption of all people through Christ (Gal. 3:8; Eph. 2). God will be glorified on that last day when all nations are worshipping together because it will be a fulfillment of His promise to redeem every tribe and tongue and nation. He is making all things new in time (Rev 21:5)! Christ will be exalted and we will be worshipping together.
Instead of pretending like we are color blind, let’s celebrate God’s creation. Instead of pretending like there are no differences, let’s get to know one another. The pursuit of racial reconciliation doesn’t require us to ignore how God uniquely designed us.
When we celebrate our differences, I believe we reflect what God seems to do in His Word. This doesn’t mean we have to awkwardly acknowledge every time we come into contact with someone of a different ethnicity. It does mean that we don’t assume to know everything about them and instead seek to get to know our brother and sister in Christ. Don’t be color blind, open your eyes and enjoy all the beautiful colors of creation.
Trillia is a freelance journalist, Christian writer, and author of United: Captured by God's Vision for Diversity (Moody, 2014). You can find her writing at trillianewbell.com. Follow her on twitter @trillianewbell.