Living Scarcely: Race and Christ’s Abundant Life

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

~Jesus Christ, John 10.10, New Revised Standard Version

“A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”

~Jesus Christ, John 10.10, The Message

Race is a thief. We know this because of its works. We know this tree by its “strange fruit” (Luke 6.44). All that race has done in American society and in our lives is kill, steal and destroy. Race has convinced us to kill persons based on the social coloring of one’s skin. We have served as accomplices– stealing, taking, holding as if we are the only ones worthy of possessing esteem and worth. Race has destroyed our sense of self- knowing that we belong no matter where we are. Race has only taken from us. It has nothing to give that does not do the same.

If Christ came to give believers an abundant, real and eternal life, a life that is more and better than we could dream of (and He did), then what did race come to do and what can it offer us that Christ does not already provide? What does race do for our lives and our living that would necessitate our continued dependence upon it? Race is not real or eternal. It is a life that is abundant based not on the works of Jesus Christ but that of the social construct of whiteness. Its abundance is only maintained by the scarcity that it produces in the lives of those not considered socially colored white. Race takes in order to give.

Race has given us nothing because it possesses nothing. There’s nothing in its hands. In fact, race tells us that there is not enough meaning, not enough purpose, not enough worth to go around, that our God is not able to bless all that God has created. Race says that God does not love and care for all of God’s children. It is for this reason that there are haves and have nots, center and marginalized people groups, minority and majority cultures. Race suggests and implies that the purpose, the good will of God for humanity is limited and lacking. According to race, God is not a good divine Parent as there are favorites. But, God shows no favoritism (Romans 2.11).

Still, race points the finger at God and says, “God has done this.” But, whose report will you believe?

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2 thoughts on “Living Scarcely: Race and Christ’s Abundant Life

  1. Starlette, what does it look like, taste like, feel like, sound like – to be in a community of people–filled with all different races, cultures and kinds — where the people and the circumstances have transcended such narratives of ‘what it shouldn’t be’ — rather, this is what it should be… where is this? Does it exist?

    I love my race- I love that God created me a color and culture that is what it is… what I do not like is what man has done to the meaning of it…or what my race and culture has been labeled as… knowing esp. as Christians we are made in the image of him therefore, the race and culture should become even more beautiful and celebrated, not questioned or hated. And with that, how can we manifest such things in a context where the old is still plotting along? Tell me sister… tell me where this exists… I don’t want to hear anymore where it doesn’t b/c I live in that world everyday– have you experienced what it is you/we long for? if so, where ? 🙂

    1. It exists deep, deep in my heart and I believe in the hearts of every believer who is willing to plumb the depths of it. A racialized life is one lived superficially. Nothing of ourselves is revealed in the social coloring of skin. I believe that our God is race-less as God is Spirit (John 4.24). Persons who have attempted to paint God and Christ in their image have rendered black and white Christs, black and white Gods and so on and so forth. Historically, such depictions have done nothing more than foster their belief in the supremacy of their socially constructed race and such renderings, submits God to the will of race and remake God in the image of race.

      I believe that there is something about us, due to the spirit of God that dwells within us, that cannot be categorized by society but renders us mysterious. We do not know who we are because of race; instead, it is because of race that we do not know more about ourselves. Unfortunately, I have only seen glimpses of this community, the sound of such overheard in the corners of the room after discussions on race, gleaned from articles or songs written on the matter. We whisper about its possibility because we are simply afraid to live without race. Right after the break or when the training is over, we return to our socially colored positions. We draw the color line again and don’t dare cross it until given permission at another anti- racism workshop.

      Race does much to deify our flesh and we have seen its result but there is a life lived in and by the spirit that Christians have not begun to know. That life is available to us the moment we recognize race as an idol and no longer submit our will to it.

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