It seems like race has always been an issue when it comes to faith. I don’t mean to start off on a bleak note because I think there is a lot of hope and I think it has been the voice of Christians at various times in history (including the present one) that have been a very positive force for change in the world when it comes to race. Even so, I think we can still do better and I believe it warrants an open and honest discussion among Christians today in order to erase the divisive lines the world (and even sometimes the church) has drawn.
Going all the way back to the first generation of Christians, one of the primary thing they fought about was race, particularly in regard to the differences between Jews and Gentiles and what it meant to be a Christian. The whole thing was bound up with racial issues…who was in and who was out based on your race. The more I read Acts and Paul’s letters the more I realize this was the situation much of the church of their day was struggling with. You find it in a few places in the Gospels but more so afterward. This is not a new issue and the good news is, the Bible has plenty to say about it to help guide us.
The Gospel didn’t come to eliminate race. The Gospel came to remove the idea that is an automatic divider and assigner of value…creating, instead, a new humanity through Christ. The sad thing is the church can also become very comfortable with these same walls…drawing the same lines the world is drawing rather than painting…painting the same picture Paul painted…a world where there was no longer any difference between slave, free, rich, poor, Jew, Gentile, male or female (Gal 3:28).
So let us lay our cards on the table this month and talk about race and Christianity. This is an area Christianity has much to offer if we are willing to open up our Bibles and practice our ideals…to be what we find there.