“White Privilege” – Is It a Reality?

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We are not identical human beings—we are very different individuals, and when we came out of our mother’s womb, we were unique in exactly the way God wanted us to be. He made no mistakes. He looks at each of His new-born children, from every nation, tribe and tongue, red and yellow, black and white, and thinks to Himself as He observes each one, “Wow, I outdid myself this time! Look at this incredible creation!”

I can remember distinctly bringing our first-born, Adam, home from the hospital, 51 years ago, to his shiny, refurbished, freshly-decorated room, and thinking much the same thing. I remember to this day how he looked and what I was thinking. I was completely awed by the idea that Jill and I were all he had, and God was using us to give him his start in life. We were completely responsible for this little 8 pound bundle of joy in every way. What a privilege! As I looked at that beautiful, sleeping new-born, I was convinced he was, at that point, the best looking, smartest, and most talented (in seed form!) of any little boy in the world!

Although he would soon demonstrate, by his resistance on the changing table, that he had been infected with the same “virus” we all carry, commonly known as “sin,” that didn’t move my love-needle in the least. God feels the same toward each of us, but instead of an imperfect love, He has an infinite one, that, because of the cross, is absolutely unconditional—a love that always disciplines us for our benefit, but never punishes us for our sin! Jesus took the punishment, fully and completely, for us. “It is finished.”

With that as a foundation, is there such a thing as “white privilege,” that we caucasians are reputed to carry with us, unbidden, undesired and unrecognized?

If God made us each perfect, exactly to His specifications, and gave us to the parents He wanted us to have, could it ever be a “privilege” to have a different family or another skin color? “The LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the LORD your God loves you” (Deuteronomy 23:5). Poverty, child abuse, and abandonment are curses, pronounced by fallen, wicked sinners that the world says makes us inferior, unprivileged, and handicapped. Others tell us our skin color does a similar thing, but God tells us that because of His love for us, He has turned every detail of our unique, individual creation into blessings! 

Yes, God is indeed using every attack, slight, put-down, and limitation we may face, due to our natural physical or mental characteristics that we can do nothing about, as an opportunity to trust Him. “Lord, show me how You intend this for good in my life?”

I have just recently experienced meeting with a man who is a perfect example of what I mean. Abandoned by his parents as a little child through circumstances they could not avoid; raised by relatives who really didn’t want him; taking care of himself at 14 by traveling to another city via bus by himself in order to find an optometrist to get much-needed glasses, all on his own; going to college by working to put himself through; graduating from seminary, planting and pastoring several churches.  Today this man, who basically raised himself, has a nation-wide ministry in Basque country in Spain! 

He is a modern version of the biblical story of Joseph, who was his father Jacob’s favorite son. His jealous brothers captured him and sold him as a slave to a caravan traveling to Egypt, where he became a scorned, discriminated-against Jew, the slave of a prominent Egyptian centurion. As he was serving his master faithfully, acquiring more and more responsibility in his household, he was falsely accused of attempted rape of his master’s wife and was thrown into prison where he languished for three years—all as a completely innocent man.

While in prison, he successfully interpreted one of Pharaoh’s dreams when no one else was able to do so. He was then released from prison, went to work for Pharaoh, eventually rising to become his right hand man, the second most powerful person in Egypt.

Joseph was miraculously reunited with his brothers and eventually the rest of his family as they moved to Egypt to escape the seven-year famine that Joseph himself had revealed was the interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream. 

This poor, low-class, untouchable Jew, who now had an underserved prison record, had a different perspective on his life than those who bemoan the tragedy of “white privilege” today. His brothers were fearful that their little brother, whom they had sold into slavery years earlier, would now take his revenge upon them. Instead, a grateful, reunited brother and the son of his father, after years of separation from his family and who had originally faced “Egyptian privilege” every day of his life, revealed to his brothers the thinking pattern of those who walk daily by faith: “You were planning evil against me, but God intended it for good” (Genesis 50:20).

God does not let His little children in on all the reasons why He does what He does. We are not happy with that decision. We want to be in on all the nuances of what God is doing. We want to be like Him—omniscient ourselves. 

But we are not God! Remember, we must become like “little children” to enter His kingdom (Matthew 18:3). “Lord, when the temptations of self-pity, jealousy of others, or bitterness over what we think we are missing arises in our hearts, cause us each to put our hand in Yours. Make us confident of Your unfathomable love and infinite power to accomplish Your perfect will that alone satisfies. May we confidently do as Joseph did: relax and know that ‘Daddy’s got it!’”

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