Deeper than skin-deep

Pastor Rob Bedard of Bethel Tabernacle urges readers to focus on merit and intentions rather than outward appearances.

Pastor Rob Bedard

Soon after my good friend and ministerial colleague began his new position — one that requires him to frequently fly — he entered the Vancouver International Airport bound for Terrace, B.C.

That day, one of many so-called “random security checks” began when the airport security guard saw my friend’s darker skin and hair, adorned by his ivory-white teeth, approaching. Superman could not have bored holes through my friend’s passport better than that security officer. He studied it, as if innocent lives depended on him that day.

After noticing my friend’s birthplace of Karachi, Pakistan — a city known for its illegal and terrorism activity — the airport security guard seemingly transformed into homeland security. Guantanamo Bay came to Vancouver that day.

With beady, suspicious eyes, the border guard bordered on interrogation as he inquired of my Pakistani-born, yet highly-patriotic Canadian friend. “Why are you traveling to Terrace today?” he queried.  Innocently, my friend replied, “To train cell leaders in Terrace.”

At the sight of the guard’s eyes nearly popping out of their sockets, my friend realized what he had said. Verbally backpedalling, he defended, “No! Not those kind of cell leaders … Cell group leaders.” Then with bomb-squad precision, my friend proceeded to delicately dismantle this ticking bomb. Flashing his business card, he explained, “I’m a Christian minister, and Christians in our churches gather together in small groups to study the Bible. These small groups are sometimes called ‘cell groups.’ I am going to Terrace to train cell group leaders on how to lead Bible study groups!”

Ever since maniacal madmen wrought terror upon America on 9/11, profiling has become necessary. Unfortunately, when done improperly, profiling can devolve into legalized racism and prejudiced mistreatment of certain ethnic groups.

Have you ever lived in or travelled to foreign lands where your ethnicity is foreign?

Then you may have endured the stares, sneers and suspicions of onlookers. Meanwhile, beneath our different skin colours we all bleed the same.

The relevance of the Bible always staggers me.

Thousands of years ago, God noted, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). This is as true today as it was three millennia ago. Yet even more staggering to me is the unconditional love of God, manifested in Jesus Christ. Like the children’s song teaches: “Black and yellow, red and white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

Jesus is more focussed on hearts than skin colour, and we would be wise to do the very same thing.