Despite my attempts to tan, I still look quite white compared to some of my friends. :)
It is almost a guarantee that if I visit an island village or walk down a street in Jinja, I will hear "Mzungu! Mzungu!" "Muzungu" means "white person" in Lugandan. Usually it is children who call this out and they frequently accompany it with the few English words they know, "How are you?" No matter how many times you say "I'm fine," their simple question is repeated as long as you are in sight.
Earlier this week I went to Jinja for a couple for days. As I traversed the streets I made the mistake of walking near a truck mounted with a speaker system and a man with a mic. As soon as he saw me, he called out "Mzungu! Mzungu! Mzungu, I love you!," which was broadcast to anyone within hearing distance of the speaker. I tried to escape down the street as quickly as possible.
I have contempated buying one of the shirts, sold in local tourist shops, that read "My name is not Mzungu."
When I am viewed and judged by the color of my "dollar" skin and thus inevitably seen as a wealthy American, that is when I wish I could be treated just like anyone else here. When I am favored over others, even those older and of a higher position than I, how I long that my skin was not a barrier. As I struggle with these feelings, I try to make some spiritual application. And, I do think there is one.
As Christians we are called to not blend in, but rather to stand out. We are to be different, not because of our skin, our background or the country we call home, but because we are followers of the Living Son of God.
This morning I read John 15. Verse 19 says, "The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world..." (NLT)
Elsewhere we are told, "Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people." (Philippians 2:15)
"You are the light of the world - like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your Heavenly Father." (Matthew 5:14-16)
As Christ-followers we are not to blend in, to conform to the world aorund us, but just as Christ was different because of His adherence to God's truth and light, so are we to shine like bright lights. Our love for Christ and the resulting desire to perform good deeds should make us stand out - more than our skin ever will.
Where will you shine for Christ today?