Summertime. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon and I was trying to decide how to spend it with my son. His sisters were busy preparing an online children’s church service, and playing football at his club was not possible due to the summer break.
“Perhaps we can join a racism peace march?” I carefully suggested. After various large demonstrations, the churches of Amsterdam had united together and were organising a March of Peace. ‘Do you mean a real demonstration, daddy? Yes! I love it! I’ve never been part of something like that!’ he replied.
Both of us created cardboard signs, each with a message and went out. When we reached the march we found the atmosphere was great – the crowd singing together ‘We Shall Overcome’ whilst walking down a shopping street in Amsterdam. And praying in song together ‘Come, Jesus come, fill this land with your glory.’ Later, speeches followed in the Nelson Mandela Park. Although I was unprepared, the organisers invited me to come forward to speak. Yeah … because it is the custom in the coloured community… a pastor is someone who has something to say! I shared something about the message written on my piece of cardboard: God created everybody in His image.
It is so important to realise that, often unconsciously, we have made a God and a Jesus in our own image and in our own likeness. ‘What Would Jesus Do’ is a great slogan, but it nearly always reveals what you think Jesus would do. Volunteering in Africa? Traveling by plane? A nice fat meal, with sinful people from the neighbourhood, or a vegetarian snack? A nice car (or an old vehicle) or the train?
I think we need to be reminded again that we are made in God’s image. And that we must therefore beware of living the opposite. He made humans who all look like Him, on the inside. God is Spirit, so we don’t have to worry about whether He has slit eyes or blue ones. Whether He’s white, black, tinted or whatever. He created people in His image and clearly people look very different from the outside. It shows us how big and creative the Creator is! And if you want to get to know Him, you need other people, who reflect part of God’s glory. As Christians we have to enjoy the diversity of the human race, in all colours and cultures, since they show us something of God Himself.
On the way back home my son and I stopped for dinner and I asked my son to share his experiences. “That was cool, daddy. It was a bit different from all those gatherings that I’ve seen on the youth news channel on national television. To be honest, it was not about what rights people have, but about who God is. And that He made everyone, whatever colour people are, in his own image.”
by Jurjen ten Brinke
Senior Pastor of Hope For North Church Amsterdam and Member of the Cinnamon Network NL Advisory Council