“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7 So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.”
~John 10.1-9, New Revised Standard Version
For many American Christians, race is a prophet, a messenger. Race serves as the mouthpiece of God, informing us of God’s will for humanity though contradictorily self- serving and self- deifying. Race says that the social coloring of our skin will save us. Despite this obvious focus on the external and the absence of need for Christ’s work on the cross, the messages of race are revered, holy, sacred even. In fact, if race has said it, then there is no getting around it. “It will come to pass.”
Race is no stranger to us because we are its voice and it is the will of self that we follow. It is a sort of self- delusion, an attempt to save ourselves from ourselves by ourselves. Though race offers to us a social salvation, a life delivered from the social bondages of poverty, gender and class, race cannot and will not ultimately save us. Its ability to deliver is by our own hands as we have created these opportunities for privilege and oppression. We open and close this door. This is not the gate that God has created as we cannot come to God through race.
Jesus is the true prophet, the true shepherd of the sheep, the only gate. Race is but a thief, a bandit that has entered our lives through some other means for God did not open the gate for race. This is why we must not listen to it and must stop listening to its message as it is another gospel. We should not remain disciples of race because race did not die for us. It is no savior because it cannot save us all.