“Is Jesus Still White?”

This comment was made in jest by one of my colleagues on a recent trip to Africa. We were visiting a now-completed church building that had been very incomplete when she was last there — then, it was little more than a floor and a partial wall. On that partial wall, however, had been a painting of Jesus, and she was taken aback by how white Jesus looked. So, as we walked over to this same church, now finished, she asked with some humour whether Jesus was still white.

That was too good a comment for me to pass up. I immediately said that I just HAD to use that in my blog. So then, all I needed was a topic to go with it. 🙂

Two topics immediately came to mind. The first one had to do with how we image Jesus. I grew up watching way too many films about the life of Jesus in which He was portrayed as a light-skinned blue-eyed English-accented person (as per the above image). Well, truth be told, as soon as I was old enough to choose not to watch them, I stopped. But I do find it funny how we still retain culturally-conditioned images of Jesus, e.g. He’s tall, good-looking, has a trim beard, and always wears freshly-laundered robes. Which are flowing.

The other thing that came to mind was that in today’s world, Jesus is NOT white. (Despite what that crazy mistaken Fox news anchor said.) What I mean is this: the Church is Jesus’ body on the earth. The Church is His hands and feet and voice; we are the embodiment of Christ’s presence that He left on the planet when He ascended to the Father. And today, the majority of the Church is not white: it is Latin, African, and Asian. Now to be clear, I have no problem with white people! (I am married to one of them.) And I’m not one of those guys who sees everything through a prism of race (or gender). However, if we were to honestly answer the question “is Jesus white?” the answer today, in every sense of that word, is “no”.