When I entered junior high, I quickly established two goals for my seventh-grade year: get Kacey Gire to kiss me and keep my friend Eric Green and me out of the hospital. Every morning as Eric and I walked to Rosemore Junior High School, we had to pass a gang of guys that called themselves “The Cornered Rats.” They were big and scary, did drugs, and most mornings they outnumbered us fifteen to two.
I had the misfortune of being an athlete who lived in a nice house. Eric had the unfortunate problem of being an athlete and black. Some days we ran. Some days we fought. Most days we came home terrified. Not a single day went by in all of seventh grade when my friend Eric wasn’t called a “nigger.” At the end of the school year, Eric and his mom moved to Cincinnati so he could attend a more racially mixed school.
Revelation 5:9 gives us a glimpse into what Heaven looks like. Speaking to Jesus inside the throne room of Heaven, the angels cry out:
You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.
What a beautiful image. Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, Native Americans in Heaven stand next to whites, Hispanics next to Koreans, and Italians next to blacks. People are no longer divided by customs or language as they are here on earth, but joined together as one family, the people of God. In Heaven best friends never move because their mothers are scared they’ll end up in the hospital because of the color of their skin.
Seventh-grade boys never run home with dislocated jaws, bleeding knees, torn clothes, and the nickname “nigger lover.” Racial slurs don’t enter anyone’s mind in Heaven. No one wanders onto a showroom floor, receives bad service, and later wonders if it was due to her ethnicity. Fear is gone. Hatred never enters our minds. Reconciliation and forgiveness flow like spring-fed streams. In Heaven everyone is treated the same, at all times, in all places, by all people.
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