We read that the Switzerland's national tourism board, on behalf of the country, has recently issued an apology to Oprah Winfrey after a racist shopkeeper refused to serve her. How are we to deal with situations like this as Christians? It may also surprise many to discover that many admired Christian preachers like Jonathan Edwards kept African-American slaves and the great legacy of theology they bequeathed the body of Christ did not deter them from purchasing fellow human beings to farm or for domestic labor.
Less than a decade ago …long before my retirement, I was employed by an International company that required short visits to the United States often to undergo trainings and sometimes in later years as faculty in an international class of younger analysts. I recall the shock at an incident when a note was placed on my faculty table with the following terse phrase… ”go home you ####, we do not want you here” … and another incident while on an evening stroll outside the facility ... stunned as law enforcement stopped to urge me to “behave myself”. My instinct was not to make an issue of these often brief but unpleasant encounters knowing selfishly that in a few days I would be in Nigeria. I felt only slightly burdened that others were not going to be as lucky… and perhaps there are justifications for the unjustifiable…I sense there are many unreported cases.
If there is anything I have learnt, to be happy, we will need to give far more accomodation than we planned to - for the foibles of others, even of those we admire and respect the most … knowing that there could also be areas we do not have right understanding causing our responses to be mistaken if not more wide off the mark. I wonder if, many years in the future - with more maturity, I will look back and be embarrassed at the things I once said or did. How can we rightfully resist satan and still be turning the other cheek to a racial slur…or any abuse? It was not meant to be in our strength to ingest and obey the word of Christ when He says in Matthew 5.
Mat 5:39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. 41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
How we need to see more of Christ and less of men … even the best and most admirable of them. How we need to have our hearts (even the kindest ones) to be exchanged for the heart of Christ. The Prophet Isaiah spoke of Him when he prophesied.
Isa 50:6 I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. Isa 50:7 For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.
We can look to Jesus for answers for the many complex questions and the comfort of the Holy Spirit that men can never provide. Jesus went through the worst abuse that we may one day trust Him for His strength (not ours) when He continually urges us to be full of forgiveness even as we have been forgiven.
I pray for all reading, like a preacher said to pray in Church today, that in the next phase of your existence, God’s glory will be so upon you, that irrespective of whatever you may be going through or have gone through…your beautiful destiny will be uncovered. But you must surrender your vain life to Christ and come under a new management that demands meekness even when we have great influence, access to resources, authority and strength to respond differently.
Charles Spurgeon once wrote in “Lectures to my students”
“By all the castings down of His servants God is glorified, for they are led to magnify Him when He sets them on their feet, and even while prostrate in the dust their faith yields Him praise”
Addendum (based on a comment I just received from facebook page suggesting...it may be the Swiss who are owed an apology.)
"Yeah, well, seems Oprah twisted the story. The shop manager said the employee who waited on Oprah showed her the bag (Hermes $38k btw) and there is a security screen of some sort that they dont bring it out unless the client chooses to BUY the bag. Entirely different story! She said the employee has worked there for a few years and is trained to deal with the spoiled and pampered, wealthiest peoples in the world. It shows just how pampered and spoiled the uba-wealthy are when a national committee has to apologize to a shopper in their country. AND like she EXPECTED the clerk to recognize her because she said she was all done up in her typical OPRAH look, except for not wearing false lashes! Really? That is awful. This wasn't racism...it was Oprah's EGO that got attacked, not her skin color." says Jacqueline