This week on Fox News Megyn Kelly made the statement that Santa was white. She also said, “Jesus was a white man too.” Ms. Kelly seemed upset that someone had challenged the notion that Santa is white. (Although the original Saint Nicholas was from modern day Turkey.) I am a little concerned at how upset she may be to learn that Jesus wasn’t’ white either.
The fact is that Jesus was an Israeli. He was a Jew. He was a Middle Easterner. He was not white. I know the pictures we have seen of Jesus portray him as white, American or European. But, I am quite sure Jesus did not have blue eyes and light skin like the picture of Jesus that hung above the Kool-Aid pitcher in Sunday School.
I don’t mean to criticize Ms. Kelly. We all say things without thinking them through at times. I have done the same. Fortunately I do not make my mistakes in front of a camera. Surely, she knows Jesus was not white.
The reason this statement caught my attention is because it points to a much bigger problem in our culture. There are many Christians in America who act as if they really do think Jesus is white and American. Once again, he was neither. We suffer from the age-old temptation of making Jesus into our own image. Before we know it we have a Jesus who thinks like us, votes like us and even looks like us. It becomes even more dangerous when we have a Jesus who dislikes or even hates the same people we do. “When God hates the same people you do, you can be sure that you have made God in your image.” That is how the saying goes.
At one time most of the Christians in the world lived in the Middle East. In another era it was Europe. In the past century it has been North America, especially the USA. Now most Christians in the world live in South America. In every culture there has been a battle. We struggle with how to speak of Jesus in a way the culture understands and yet, not make him like the culture.
We are struggling with this in our culture today. I often hear statements that convince me many people believe in an American Jesus, not the Biblical one. The prosperity gospel and a lot of political sermons I have heard only work with the American Jesus, not the real one. Promises of safety and blessing to everyone who follows God only work with the American Jesus, not the one who suffered and died on a cross.
As followers of Jesus it is our goal to become like the Jesus of the New Testament. It is not desirable to make him like us. Sorry Megyn, but Jesus wasn’t white.