“But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.” (Revelation 22:3-4)
I’ve been deeply troubled by the recent news about the number of white people—whether they are public officials or not—who had once painted their faces black. Even though these revelations are disturbing, and even though such behavior needs to be condemned, I don’t believe that what these individuals once did is the greater sin. By far the greater sin is that such behavior was ever permitted in our country.
We must be adamantly clear that white people painting their faces black isn’t just “fun and games,” but is racism because it mocks and ridicules black people. “Blackface” is also desecration and blasphemy.
There are many pieces of scripture—including today’s—that invite us to see God’s face. Even though I believe we’ll one day see God “face to face,” how can we see God’s face now?
The simplest way to get a glimpse of God’s face is on the faces of those around us. Every face reveals a tiny piece of God’s face because everyone is made in God’s image.
A white person painting their face black is sin because it demeans another race. It’s desecrating because it treats a sacred person disrespectfully; and it’s blasphemy because it shows a lack of reverence for one of God’s children.
Some people have asked if those who had once painted their faces can be forgiven. This question is shortsighted because all can be forgiven. Others have asked if public officials can learn from their mistakes. This question is also shortsighted because who among us can’t learn from our own.
The real question is whether those who had once painted their faces can continue in public service. I believe they can, but only under certain conditions.
They must not deny, dismiss, or make excuses for what they did. They must condemn and apologize for their actions. They must pledge to see the beauty and dignity of every face. They must dedicate their work and service to eradicate all forms of racism.
The conditions I’ve just enumerated aren’t just for public officials. They are also for all those who want to serve God, who encourages us to see His face in each other’s.
- How do you think our country could do more to repent from and eradicate all forms of racism?
- Nearly all people have certain biases and prejudices? Do you have any? If so, what are you going to do about them?
- How do you think God feels about all the lines and divisions between the races? Why would anyone be willing to grieve God’s heart?