As a student of scripture, I love it when the Lord leads me to a new topic to explore. Sometimes this deeper dive is prompted by a word or to learn the Godly characteristics of individuals before me. I realize I’ll never fully master Bible knowledge, but in my pursuit, my hope is to continually acquire wisdom. Last week, God got my attention when a concept was shared by two believers in the span of eight hours. The nudge was to explore the color of people in Heaven.
I’m a bit intimidated by the Book of Revelation, but in the past, I’ve taken a peek to read what the Throne in Heaven and New Jerusalem are going to look like: from the distinct reds of jasper and ruby, to gold, emerald green and blue hues, bright white and sparkling crystal. (Revelation 4 and Revelation 21:9-27 respectively). Don’t these colors sound magnificent? So that’s where I started my research; and knowing we are His handiwork (Ephesians 2:8-10), I wasn’t surprised to read that the Master Artist also created His children in many colors:
“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. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands”. Revelation 7:9, emphasis mine.
Since it was my first time reading it, maybe it’s your first time too. I decided to re-read this verse for clarity. What stood out to me was there are more people than can be counted and they were from every ethnicity, from the ends of the Earth. They were all standing together, no one better than another. There were no favorites, no group was superior.
“So, in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”. Galatians 3:26-28
How is Earth so far out of whack from Heaven? And it’s not just today’s headlines. Ethnic tensions have been going on for centuries in America and for millenniums as we read in the Bible:
• The people of Nineveh were told by Jonah (yes, the same Jonah swallowed by a whale) to repent. They didn’t deserve God’s mercy or grace, but our Lord wanted more for them than the sinful life they were living. He wanted to offer redemption.
• The Good Samaritan illustrates the story of a man having mercy on another, even when society said they were enemies. It’s the perfect example Jesus could teach then and now, on how to love your neighbor as yourself.
• The Woman at the Well was considered even lower in the social pecking order. She was a woman, most likely of mixed ethnicity, whose character was in question. Yet Jesus didn’t care. He loved her as a daughter. He showed her compassion and she recognized Him as Messiah. She ran from the well, leaving her water jar behind, and shared her faith with her entire community.
In each of these stories, someone obeyed God to peacefully, mercifully, compassionately buck the system.
In the last story, Jesus took a different road than his Jewish friends would have taken – literally. Even though traveling through Samaria was a shortcut, Jews of that day would take a longer route just to bypass Samaria and its “lesser” people. His shortcut took Him right through Samaria, directly to the Jewish ancestor’s well belonging to Jacob. Jesus knew exactly where He was going and why – His witness to the Samaritan woman changed the hearts and lives of an entire community. We shouldn’t be surprised. When God gives a nudge, He is asking us to listen and obey. God leads us on a path exactly where we need to go. When we bring the Lord into the equation, drastic and amazing life-change occurs.
As a society, it feels like we too are experiencing tests of faith. Are we willing to submit to, listen to, and obey what God is asking? Do we believe God will make something good come out of the health pandemic, financial struggles, economic recession, and racial tension? It definitely feels like there is a spiritual fight going on: we’ve been stuck inside, separated from people, and have lost “control” over our lives. Many have experienced loneliness, anxiety, fear, and/or anger. Our flesh is at war with the Spirit. That is good. We need to get angry in our soul. As the control center of our mind, emotions and will, we don’t want it to get corrupted by the ways of the world. Instead, by aligning our soul with the Holy Spirit, we experience the fruits of the spirit. When we course-correct these internal tensions, we can experience the true-life change God desires through repentance and reconciliation.
If we are to be obedient to God’s Commandments, we can’t love one people group over another. By being united in Christ, we find our people group. Period. Then we can be open to becoming a generational learner, seeking the wisdom of those who have gone before us. We can seek multi-ethnic conversations, not only to break us out of our echo chamber but to also really get to know people and their life stories. We can fight to speak as a united voice that comes from believing God created us all as His children, that God is Love, and that we will live together in eternity because Jesus conquered death. In the end times, God will wipe away every tear, there won’t be death, mourning, crying, or pain. We will be refreshed from the spring of living water. He will live among us and we will live in color. (Revelation 21).
Is your soul battling right now? Listen to it. God might be nudging an area that needs to be cleared up in your life, prompting you to change. Or He might be asking you to speak out, show your support, and bring more color on Earth as it is in Heaven! Don’t we want our churches to resemble the picture the Book of Revelation provides?
One of the color nudges came from my friend Linnea, so please pray along with her and me: Heavenly Father, please bring diversity to the street I live on, so that my neighborhood is in color like Heaven. Please teach me and nudge me to be a role model and act to create a reflection of Heaven on this Earth. Let the Glory be yours, Lord. Amen.