There’s a reason why people of every tribe and nation will worship before the throne of God. And it’s not just because God is faithful and good that way—I’m convinced it’s because He loves diversity. He created it.
I have, for many years, had a bit of my heart lost, given, and invested in the people of India. There are, I admit, many things about the culture which are unredeemed: idol worship, the cast system, the objectification of women, etc. But there are also beautiful things. They have a fearless and exultant love for beauty.
This past weekend I had the delight of hosting an Indian evening for over a dozen other girls. I donned my salwar, a tunic of a brilliant red, black, and white textile, and at 5:30 bustled into the kitchen. Out came the spices! Up went the heat! One girl started her lentils, another started cutting up onions, ginger, garlic, cilantro. I began on a sesame brittle—my friends got naan ready and helped dish out the spices as needed. We talked over the cacophony of pans, (we managed to burn a batch of rice and its pot), many female voices, and the stove fan, while Bollywood tunes blasting from my laptop.
At last all was ready and the spread set on the table, feasting before our eyes: A South Indian Dahl, a coconut curry, rice, naan, snapped peas, and our sesame dessert. Oh, so good. All of us college students fairly died with delight. So much flavor—all that sultry spice twirling and blazing in your mouth. Beauty.
Then we movie-marathoned. Three and half hours of Lagaan—a tale of rebellion against the British Raj in the form of a cricket game with very high-stakes (and of course, lots of romance), punctuated by whirling, colorful dances—joyful and expressive. Beauty. Afterwards, Slumdog Millionaire–one of the best films ever made.
I could talk for a long time about why that films so good—how it gives one of the most relentless and raw depictions of Christ-like love ever depicted on screen. But one of the things that amazes me so is how beautiful it is… yes, it shows the squalor, filth, and depravity the characters experience—but also amazing redemption, true unconditional love. My favorite part is the end, when Jamal kisses the scar on Latika’s face, undoing all the defilement and shame’s she’s experienced, saying without words, “You are beautiful to me”—and the film closes with one fantastic dance sequence, complete with a hundred extras on a train-station platform, Latika dancing it up in white and jeans with a brilliant yellow scarf. Love triumphant.
Ah, Indians love a good dance. and color. So much color. Even in the poorest places in India, even the beggars are arrayed in the most brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows.
I believe the love God has given me for India springs from seeing in it something of God’s own beauty. And so I imagine that, if Christ redeems the best from every culture, in Heaven we’ll all be wearing colors more brilliant than the sun. And our Indian brothers and sisters in the Lord will be sharing with us really good food—and showing us how to dance before the throne of grace.