Nowadays, racism and social injustice fill our airwaves, news outlets and social media, often mixed in with the words “white privilege”. Protests often occur, sometimes followed by riots and looting.
Having lived in Indonesia, Ecuador and the US, I have always been considered a minority, either because of my ethnicity, the color of my skin, my religion or in the case of Indonesia, it was all three. If those are not enough, you can throw in my initial status as an immigrant with no visa to work in the US. But God is gracious and 20 years ago He brought my family to APC, again as the only Asian immigrants in an otherwise white church.
I often wondered about the words white privilege. Would it be wrong if I said God has given me many privileges: “Brown privilege”, “Christian privilege”, “Asian privilege”, etc. and I have taken advantage of those wherever I go? In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus said in verse 15: “to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away”. Feel free to read the rest of the passage to find out what happens when the master returns and settles accounts with them. I like this passage as it teaches us not to count on many “talents” that God blesses us with, but what do we do with what we are given.
Can we be happy with what we have? Paul, in his letter to the Philippians 4:11, wrote: “Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have.”
Should I consider myself at a disadvantage because I do not have “white privilege” or because I am not a native English speaker? Wouldn’t that be a disservice to God? Each of us is given “talents” according to one’s ability per the above Matthew passage. The question is what do we do with those? As much as I love playing basketball, I realized long ago that it would not be wise to use my talent as an NBA player and I am sure God would vigorously agree with me on that. Yes, I may have had to study harder (those Greek/Roman lit books should be in normal English, please) or work harder than others, but these are God’s blessings. God has blessed us with the ultimate privilege, as God’s children. 1 John 3:1 opens with: “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.”
Should we pity or pat ourselves on the back for having or not having certain privileges, or should we ask ourselves what we have done with what we received from God? Have we fully utilized what God has blessed us with?