Photograph: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images. Original Source here.
It’s not often you get to see a the crowning of a queen.
Last week, Nina Davuluri, 24, from Syracuse, broke into tears when she was crowned the first Miss America of Indian descent. Born and raised in New York, this beauty queen is just as American as any of us, considering every American alive today enjoys their citizenship because either their family immigrated here or they chose to renounce the citizenship of their birthplace in lieu of a new homeland.
But the hub-bub surrounding Miss Davuluri reveals how the ugliness of forgetfulness can impact any American – believer or not. After all, we are all immigrants. We all have histories. We all have heritages. Online, Miss Davuluri was called Arab (she’s Indian), terrorist (she’s a student), and Muslim (she’s Hindu).
But the racism underlying those sentiments goes much deeper than unchecked national pride.
Racism denigrates the God who created us all in his image.
National pride taken to a sinful extreme establishes it own authority. It’s the same sinful extremism that led Hitler on an obsession to “purify” the human race. Blonde-hair and blue-eyes became the physical indicator of social superiority, and today the world still wears the scars of the Nazi regime, demonstrating the practical end of theoretical racism.
But when God created the human race, he created us with shades and variations. It is exactly this variation that brings him the most glory. The immensity and majesty of God cannot be reduced to singularity of shade, just as his image within us should not be. We are all equal image-bearers of our Creator.
When we set up one race or culture over another, we are guilty of denigrating the God who created us all in his image.
And when we say we only want our kingdom to look like us, we are guilty of denigrating the kingdom into which God invites us.
Racism denigrates God’s kingdom in which we all entered as immigrants.
A few years ago, I watched my friend, who was born and raised in India, face an American flag, cover her heart, and pledge her allegiance to the United States of America. A few days ago, I talked to her on the phone after she recently filed paperwork to renounce her Indian citizenship. Dual citizenship is a tricky thing. While some countries allow it (including the U.S.), India does not. Neither does God.
Paul says we were once children of wrath, belonging to a kingdom of sin. But in his great mercy, the King adopted us into his royal family and made us co-heirs over his kingdom with his Son (Eph. 2:1-2). When we cling to our old nature and old ways, we are desperately trying to maintain citizenship in two separate kingdoms. God doesn’t allow this, because as our corrupt hearts prove, we cannot successfully serve two masters without forsaking one.
This truth catapults the controversy surrounding the crowning of the new Miss America beyond the repugnant claims of racism and into the realm of rebellion. Racism says part of God’s creation is faulty; rebellion against the throne says God’s purposes in building his kingdom are faulty, and he no longer deserves to be King.
But Ps. 87 tells us God has majestic plans to beautify his kingdom. It says Zion is a place made lovely by the people who dwell there – the King and residents from all tongues and tribes.
“I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to those who know Me;
Behold, O Philistia and Tyre, with Ethiopia:
‘This one was born there.’”
And of Zion it will be said,
“This one and that one were born in her;
And the Most High Himself shall establish her.”
The Lord will record,
When He registers the peoples:
“This one was born there.” Selah (Ps. 87:4-6).
None of us deserves our spiritual citizenship. We were not “born” there; we are born of a different kingdom. But, God writes our heavenly citizenship in the Book of Life with his very hand. Even though we’ve been born in the kingdom of wrath, he views us as if we were “born” in Zion, the kingdom of righteousness. To accuse the validity of an individual’s citizenship in heaven is to accuse the qualifications of the One who wrote their name there.
In thinking on this post, I wrote to my friend (mentioned above). Considering her shared heritage with Miss Davuluri, I was eager to get her thoughts. This is what she said: “It makes me think, I would never be considered American despite of my love for America and legal citizenship in this country because my skin color and Indian heritage overshadows my American citizenship. Would they think the same if the winner of Miss America was a blue-eyed, blonde-haired girl of German or Swedish descent? I think not.”
I realize our American citizenship cannot be compared to our citizenship in the Kingdom to come; they are of two different worlds. But I truly believe the hateful words used in this controversy go beyond ignorance, and even hate, although those things are certainly present in the ugliest of forms.
The controversy surrounding Miss Davuluri goes all the way to the gates of heaven, where God in his great mercy gives citizenship to all those who are risen with Christ. And while there will be individuals left out of the kingdom of God, it won’t be because of skin color, family history, or earthly heritage. All those who are adopted by the King will be called his sons and daughters (2 Cor. 6:18). If we do not accept others of different descent into our social fabric, we are not reflecting the same grace shown to us by the “Most High Himself” who granted us citizenship into his kingdom as foreigners. This is the ugly side of forgetfulness.
And knowing that the way we live our lives on earth points to our heavenly citizenship, women everywhere should be affronted by the attack on this woman. A Daughter of the King is known not by the crown she wears, but the message she bears.
Do our actions reveal a heart courting dual citizenship? Or do they speak of the grace of our King who welcomed us as foreigners into his kingdom?
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