“Your way was through the sea, your path, through the mighty waters; yet your footprints were unseen.”
~ Psalm 77.19, NRSV
There is a saying: “God moves in mysterious ways.” The phrase suggests that God does act in the world but that the plans and purposes of God’s actions are unknown. The psalmist tells us that though we know that God moves, we do not know the way. God’s “footprints were unseen.”
But, race makes us believe that we have an impossible ability, that is to know God fully, completely. It is a deception of the mind to believe that we, who are limited in knowledge, power and presence, have a complete understanding of an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent God. Race reveals not a deeper or truer or more definitive knowledge of God but of our ignorance of God. For if we believe that God can be contained within a social construct, that God can be figured out through our filling in, then we do not know God at all.
And we attempt to demystify God when we assume we know God’s ways, that they, like ours, are stereotypical and thereby predictable. We give sight to the blind Lady Justice when we suggest the possibility of God’s judgments being prejudicial, that God would be on the side of those whom race has elevated. It suggests that we can read God’s mind and thus, know God’s thoughts even before God thinks them, that they are just like ours (Psalm 139.2). But, they are not nor will they ever be.
So strong, so committed are we to our racial allegiance that we give God a body though a Spirit, going against sacred Scripture to ensure that God is on our side if only in our minds (John 4.24). We believe that God is like us and likewise, we are like God. We want to be God’s creator, God’s master, God’s savior. Such a belief reminds me that we have not progressed in our nature though technologically advanced, well- educated and economically mobile. Like Adam and Eve, we, too, desire to be like God (Genesis 3.5). But, who is like the Lord (Psalm 113)? No one.
This is why we must put race behind us. It is because when we color God in, God becomes the socially constructed White Man and the Head Negro in Charge (HNIC). God’s attributes are then not based on God’s ability, demonstrated through God’s story with us but God’s so- called physical appearance. When we color God in, we cast social shadows on the divine Light and the Word of God is used to support race’s predictions and not that of God’s promises.
When we color God in, we are saying that we do not trust the hand of God to right this social wrong. We are saying that God cannot eliminate race and so, in our minds, we surrender the truth of God’s place in the life of the believer and God’s power in the earth to race. We attempt to be the god of God, the creator of the Creator. But, if we are on the side of race, then we are not positioned with Christ (II Corinthians 5.17; Ephesians 2.6).
This is why the gospel was and is race-less. Because race is an idol and it cannot stand in the presence of the true and living God. If it can, then maybe we are not in the presence of the true and living God but the god that we have made, the god that we have colored in.