Sunday, December 30, 2007

Thoughts on racism (part 2)

[To read the entire series, click on "racism" on the sidebar under "POSTS BY CATEGORIES".]

"God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created him." -Genesis 1:27

"Now the man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living." -Genesis 3:20

"Do we not all have one father? Has not God created us? Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers?" -Malachi 2:10

"I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word: that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me." -John 17:20-24

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise." -Galatians 3:28-29

I love my extended family. I really do. It's wonderful when we get as many of us together as we can. We've joked that we're like a "mini United Nations". All of my cousins on my mother's side are at least bilingual, having grown up in homes where two or more languages were spoken. I love our history, our lore, our food, our many stories. Among the American contingent, in just a little more than my lifetime, we have the American success story ("poor immigrant boy works hard and achieves success"), the pioneer story ("Go west, young man!" complete with a covered, trailer), the touching story of parents becoming citizens so their son could better serve our country, etc.

But what I really love about my extended family is our Christian heritage. Most of us are descendants of Abraham, because we belong to Christ. All of our truly exciting stories are testimonies of what God has done and how He has blessed us, protected us, guided us, and shown us His grace and love over the generations. I grew up on "faith stories". If there is one thing that truly defines our family, that makes us one, it is our shared faith in God.

We are all just a part of a much bigger family. Jesus taught that our membership in His family should take precedence over our relationships in our earthly families. (See, for example, Matthew 12:46-50, Luke 18:28-30, Luke 14:26)

But, as followers of Christ, we are not just members of the same wonderful family. We are also --- and it is such a glorious mystery --- the very Body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:27 tells us, "Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of of it." Just verses earlier, we are warned to avoid division within the body and to care for one another. We are told, "And if one member suffers, all members suffer with it..."

Racism in all its forms --- whether it is overt hatred or some white-washed version that seeks to divide us along racial lines --- has no place in the Body of Christ. We are all sons and daughters of Adam, along with every other human. Those of us who are followers of Jesus are brothers and sister in Him, and members of His Body. Christ, in Gethsemene, prayed for the unity of His followers. We are one in Him, with previous divisions and barriers (those of race, nationality, society, economy, or gender) removed. When one of us suffers, we all suffer.

Still today, many of our brothers and sisters suffer as a result of racism. In my comfortable, sheltered world, it is all too easy for me to forget that. I should be more grieved and more passionate about this. I should stand with my brothers and sisters, weep with them, pray with them, speak out on their behalf when necessary, and expose the deeds of darkness.

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