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Seeing life in black and red - Gabriel Stovall

Gabriel Stovall

Gabriel Stovall

Here’s a confession.

I don’t see the world in black and white, or any other hue that we equate to ethnicity.

That doesn’t mean that I’m ignorant of racism, nor does it imply that I am not appreciative of the diverse cultures of our land. On the contrary, I actually love reading, studying about and experiencing other cultures — especially the delicacies.

I just choose to not dilute my life experiences due to the color of my own, or another’s skin. What happens frequently with me, because of this mindset, is this:

I tend to take long stances of silence, which almost seem like indifference, when it comes to many of the hot button issues that most of us like to discuss.

But it’s not indifference. It’s not fear to speak.

It’s balance.

I remember in a political science class that I was in years ago, my professor — a longtime member of the city council in my hometown of Omaha, Neb. — said something that has stayed with me ever since, and has become a filter through which I judge most controversial situations.

He said, “Often you will find that truth is neither to the far right or the far left, but rather in the middle.”

Balance.

My truth indeed was in the middle. Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ, my truth, was attached to a cross with spikes that pierced through the skin of his feet and hands.

He stood in between two thieves — a Man with no sin, wedged in the middle of two sinners. And He died, not just for them, but for the sin of all the world, and for every sinner who would accept His sacrifice.

When He got up from the grave three days later, He did so with “all power in His hand.” And I am convinced that His “all power” is for all people. Regardless of who they are, where they come from, how they have failed or how different they look, sound, talk and think from you and me.

I believe the words of Scripture validate my claim. Galatians 3:28-29 states: “There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.” (HCSB).

What does that mean? Simply this: If you have a hard time accepting each others’ differences and loving each other with the love of Christ here on earth, then you’re going to have a heck of a hard time getting adjusted in heaven.

It also means this: God is just as concerned with the person who has a differing view point than yours as He is concerned with you. It means God is not anymore for black people than for white, or white people than black. Or Asian, or Hispanic, or whatever other ethnicity you can find in the earth.

It means that God is just as interested in Paula Deen’s soul as he is in the ones who feel offended by her. It means that God is just as concerned with the heart of George Zimmerman as He is with the family of Trayvon Martin.

It means that God is just as troubled by black-on-black violence and hatred as He is white-on-black racism. It means that God is just as preoccupied with the plight of the Democrat or Independent as he is the Republican.

Our politics, parties and personal preferences have not cornered the market on God’s goodness, nor the reach of Christ’s shed blood. And if we’re truly going to be Christians, we must live by that truth in how we treat people regardless of how they line up on a controversial issue.

Why do I not passionately take sides on a case like George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin’s? Because it’s a no-win situation. Regardless of the verdict, Martin’s life on earth is gone and Zimmerman’s life on earth is forever scarred.

Why am I, a black man living in the south, not raging in fits of outspoken vitriol that a southern white woman from Savannah, Ga. and her sons allegedly said very inappropriate and racially hateful things to people who share my skin color?

Because I see people who share my skin color doing the same thing to each other every day, with much less outrage and fanfare.

And I say, if you want to get my attention, be consistent. Be balanced. Rail against all sin. Speak up against all hatred. Picket and protest against all forms of bigotry — not just the most personally comfortable and convenient ones.

After all, it is the “all” that Christ died for. And it is the “all” that He is coming back for.

That is why instead of choosing to see life as black and white, I’ll choose to see it in black and red.

Those are the colors of God’s Word in my Bible.