Race-less Gospel

A race-less life is a Christ- filled life.


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I don’t know how I know this

imagesYIXMRC5VI don’t know how I know this but I am fully persuaded and absolutely certain that people are not colors.  I cannot put my finger on the proof, unless I count myself, but I do not believe that the summary of my human existence or yours lies in the social coloring of skin, the shape of eyes or nose, the width of hips or lips, the length or texture of hair.  I can feel this truth in my bones.

I don’t know how I know this but I am certain that we are not measured by our external appearance, that the value of our humanness lies not on the outside of us.  That’s too dangerous.  Who could watch over it and keep it safe?  What would we use to protect it?

No, that value, that meaning and truth lies much deeper.  I suspect that it is somewhere close to the soul, found near the root of my being.  And yet, it cannot be excavated, rooted up or put out.  It will never be captured or contained or categorized.  The spirit is too great.

I’ve read many books, sat in numerous classrooms, listened and contributed to countless discussions.  But, the Teacher provides no degrees; there is only homework, body work, one’s life course work.  There is no completion of requirements, no graduation, no ceremony, no “Pomp and Circumstance.”  You just know and to ensure our continued enrollment in the school of the Spirit, I don’t know how I know this.  I guess you will have to ask God for yourself.


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This may sound absurd

Sprout_Lightbulb“If at first an idea does not sound absurd, then there is no hope for it.”

~ Albert Einstein

I am not sharing the most popular message.  It has certainly been perceived as naive, misinformed and premature.  I seem to have missed a few steps, be lacking in experience or unable to see the full picture.

But what if I haven’t?  What if I saw the steps and tackled them two by two?  What if I didn’t want any more experience with race, racism, prejudice and stereotypes?  What if I have heard this story before and I know where this is going?  So, let me stop it.

The race-less gospel does not seek to ignore the crimes committed in the name of race.  No, I know that persons believe in race and feel a sense of duty to serve and protect their group based on the social theories of race.   The race-less gospel does not question the accounts of history.  I am informed as to how race came into being and what we have done in devotion to race.  I am aware that persons believe that they are colors, that the social coloring of their skin is the best indicator of their worth and how persons will value them.  But, I don’t.

The race-less gospel is the message of Jesus the Christ, the hope that those who have been baptized with Christ might die to flesh and its social meanings daily.  “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3.27-28, NRSV).  There is no longer socially colored beige/ black/ brown/ red/ yellow/ white.  Our categories do not fit into Christ and once we have put on Christ, everything is covered.  We are one body in Christ and it is category-less.

I know that it sounds absurd but I like the way that it sounds.


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They peel off

labelsweb“Labels are not for filing.  Labels are for clothing.  Labels are not for people.”

~ Martina Navratilova

Race is not permanent; it is not written in stone but on the hearts of humanity.  We need only lose faith in it, lose heart in its prejudicial convictions.

Patrick Lindsay says that labels are “a one- word summary of people’s lives.”  One word.  My name does not even sum up who I am and all race gives me is one word: black/ brown/ beige/ red/ yellow/ white.  That’s it.  That’s all that we are and for all of the stereotypes associated with these social colors, none of them say much about us.

Labels are not permanent and are transferable.  They are sticky because something has to be attached to it before it can attach itself to you.  They are not natural; they do not come with our humanity.  We can take it off.

The labels of race are actually layers, layers of lies and hurt and shame.  This is why there is no healing or depth or lasting meaning in racial identities.  It’s as superficial as the skin it seeks to describe and ascribe worth to.

No, I will no defend a label or define my life based on something so socially antagonistic, so spiritually disagreeable, so personally unnecessary.  I don’t need race.  I don’t need society’s stickers.

And you don’t either.  It’s easy to let go of the racial identities that have been attached to us.  These labels, they peel off.


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Unpacking the baggage of race

mood_tim-walker_iris-palmer-and-her-suitcases_italian-vogueThe American racial identity is baggage.  It is a bunch of small containers for our humanity that transport us to the destiny of history.  Race is a round trip backward.

There is so much to race, so much that we have to hold on to and positions that we cannot let go.  Race is cumbersome and gets in the way of who we really are.  It impedes our movement and slows our lives down.

The social construct of race is burdensome and too heavy to carry.  So, we should just put it down.  It is of no benefit and who packed these bags anyway?

Check the tag; where are we going with race?  How much is it going to cost?  Where is race taking us?  And do we really want to continue on this path?

Its history is heavy.  Its convictions are loaded.  Its summaries concerning human life are weighty.  We need to put race down. Being and identifying who we are is not this hard.  It does not take this much strength to be who God created us to be.

We are not what is in those bags?  We are not hatred or prejudice, anger or resentment, bitterness or jealousy, wrath or unforgiveness.  These are feelings not faces.  But, all of these things are folded neatly in the baggage of race, stored just in case we need to wear them.  And this is why our hearts are heavy and our souls are weighted down.  It is because race is a burden not a blessing.

These carry on items do not allow us to carry on with life as God intended but we have to stop and start again every day.  So, let’s unpack the baggage because where we are going, race is not needed.

 


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He is risen! Now what? (Pt. 2)

apathy-1The Easter lilies are turning brown and drooping.  The angels are no longer at the tomb.  Jesus is not there.  He is risen!  He has shown himself to Mary Magdalene.

And what of the cross?  What do we do with it?  He is not there either.

We have read the Scriptures and remembered the story.  We have sang the songs and given thanks.  That’s it, right?  Wrong.

He is risen and now, we must rise.  It makes no sense for us to look into the tomb and see that Jesus is not there and then climb into our own.  Perhaps, your tomb does not have a marker; maybe it does not have a name.  But, if it prevents you from living in the power of the resurrection then, it is a grave.

Allow this word to dig you out and to pull you up.  “Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!”  Now, it’s your turn.


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Nothing

urlI wish that I had the time to share all that I read and learn with you, all of the stories– historical narratives and personal testimonies alike.  I wish that you would be fully persuaded that God does not love you like race does or as race says.  Perhaps, this would aid in your understanding my conclusions regarding race.  Nevertheless, I depend on the spirit of Christ within you to move you  to this race- less faith.  If you believe that the spirit of Christ does not work in such matters, then maybe this article might move you closer to my side.

Often persons speak about the biological reality of race as if the physical reality of the social coloring of skin somehow means that race is real.  But, while the social coloring of skin is real, the reality of race is socially constructed.  The values that we assess and the judgments that we make are all our own.  Our skin does not come with a key or a legend or a hierarchal ladder to determine its meaning and measure.  It’s all make believe.

The article that I alluded to earlier was featured in The Atlantic and says, “Genes Don’t Cause Racial- Health Disparities, Society Does.”  Billions of dollars in research and the findings were nonexistent.  There’s nothing there.  I have spent years reading and researching race and let me save you the trouble, stop looking at your skin as if it is a problem or a solution.  There’s nothing there.


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Selah

selah590Diversity training won’t fix this.  Carefully crafted apologies are absurd.  Protests and candle light vigils miss the point and the greater need.  I don’t want to hold hands and sing of what will be.  I don’t want to reenact it, create a choreography that walks in his footsteps.

And justice is not the word.  I’ll know it when I hear it or maybe when I say it.  But, I am sure that I don’t need justice; I’ve had enough of social justice.  I’ve seen what happens when we hold the scales, how they are tipped in favor of one group or the other, depending upon how much money is put in them.

Anger won’t bring him back; his back is turned from us now.  He’s no longer with us but has joined the wrongfully dead.

There are just no words that come to mind when I watch the video of Mr. Walter Scott running away because unlike the police officer who claimed he felt threatened, perhaps, it was Mr. Scott who got the feeling that he was in danger.  He’s unarmed.  He’s got nothing.  Unless you want to argue that the social coloring of his skin is a threat.  He’s a “black” man so beware!

But, I’m not buying it and please don’t attempt to sell me another story of self- defense.  I don’t want to hear about the “color of criminality.”  Let me stop you.  I’ve heard this one before.

His mother and others are saying that South Carolina police officer Michael Slager is a “good person.”  Yes and so was Mr. Scott.  He was pulled over for an alleged traffic violation and then he was shot five times as he ran away.  No warning.  No request to get the car fixed.  No ticket.

There is a word in the Bible that appears almost exclusively in the Psalms with the exception of the book of Habakkuk: Selah.  Some consider it a musical symbol that suggests that one should pause and reflect on what has been said.  I don’t know what to say but when I watched the video, I just had to stop and think about what I had just witnessed.  Murder.  Selah.

 

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