For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 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. Galatians 3:26-28 NASB
I have been thinking long and hard about this topic for several weeks now. I cannot avoid it any more: this title has been in my head for at least three weeks and I just honestly did not sit down to type because truthfully I was still in a state of bewilderment at how the ugliness of our nation serves to keep us divided. Of course, being a black woman, the exposure of the ugly, diseased wound in our nation that originates from differences in race has affected me personally. My own brothers could easily have been Trayvon Martin or Oscar Grant (please see Fruitvale Station). It has caused me to question having any children out of a momentary fear of the possibility of their having a future that did not involve prison or gangs or premature death. But after much prayer, I was comforted by God’s words to my heart that if I raise them as He leads me to and give them back to Him for covering and protection, worry should not be a factor for me but only my faith in Him and His assurance of their futures.
When this came to me, I thought of the origins of race. How did different races and nationalities come to exist? Well the only Biblical reference that remotely offers some insight is in the passage referring to the Towel of Babel, when the tongues of men were confounded after they all conspired together to build a tower (Genesis 11). It was after this point that men were no longer of one language and they became scattered across the world. A Biblical fact that most do not acknowledge is the early reference to the Jews as the chosen race, an early indication of how race had served to separate us all. The beauty of this is that God had a divine plan in place to remove all these things from the table so that we could all partake of His love, grace, and mercy through His Son.
Throughout history, race, color of skin, and ethnic backgrounds have been used as the premise for discrimination. Historically speaking, throughout time, ironically, it was the Jews who endured a lot of this discrimination–slavery during the time of Moses, the Holocaust, and even now in maintaining control of their lands, followed by the peoples indigenous to all of the continents of this world at the hands of the Europeans. Sadly enough, in every case it was the group being oppressed that was labeled as inferior, rather than the oppressor. Even in the New Testament, we find that race was considered by Jesus, even though it was only a test of this woman’s faith. In Mark 7, verses 24-30, Jesus is approached by a Syrophoenician woman to cast a demon out of her little girl. The text notably states that she was a Gentile. Jesus’ reply to her: He said to her, "Allow the children to be satisfied first, because it isn’t right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs." (verse 27). But because of her faith, she implored of Him yet again to deliver and heal her daughter; Jesus notes that it was because of her faith that her daughter was delivered. However, this is not to classify Jesus Christ as racist–for Jesus was sent in the flesh to bring the Good News to the Jews first. It was later through a Jewish man but a Roman citizen that the Word was later brought to the Gentiles. If you will remember, while He was alive, Jesus even healed the servant of a Roman centurion–and better yet, the Bible states all that believed in Him were healed! There is no further distinction of race here. To even further support this fact, Jesus offers living waters to the Samaritan woman at the well, another ‘race’ that was frowned upon at the time by the Jews. So this kills the race factor and should serve to remind us of God’s love being most important. After Jesus died, He became life for us all, regardless of race, creed, and background.
I found rest in the passage above from Paul. Its remarkable to me how God used Paul, a known persecutor of the early Christians, to bring salvation to the Gentiles (every race that was not Jewish). His words above reaffirm God’s love for us because it was through Christ that everything that serves to separate us from one another came crumbling down. It is the hatred, the evil inherent in humanity being born in a state of sinfulness and under the influence of the enemy, that causes us to walk in fear and to focus on our differences. The title ‘Race Relations’ is honestly intended to highlight how irrelevant race really is because as Paul says–there is neither Greek nor Jew, male nor female, and slave nor free man in Christ. God went to some great lengths to show us how much He loved us: to convert a known killer (Paul) and use him to proliferate the Good News to the entire world. The true message of God is that He is love and He loves us infinitely for we are all one in Christ.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body–whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 NIV