“He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”
~ Colossians 1.15, NRSV
Named for the fictional character in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty- Four, the CBS reality television show “Big Brother” is now under surveillance after comments from cast members spark discussions on social media on white privilege and overt racism. Despite the show’s purpose, according to a recent post by The New York Times, “race has become the dominant narrative.” This story makes me wonder about the Christian reality in America as it seems that there are several story lines that are running alongside and in many cases, replacing the good news of Jesus Christ. In a society that can update its status minute by minute, Christ’s unchanging status as the world’s Savior and the stability of his identity as the one who “is the same yesterday, today and forever” may appear outdated and irrelevant (Hebrews 13.8). In a similar manner, in a society that prides itself on being accepting and tolerant, Christian believers may find themselves uncomfortable describing themselves and others as sinners. But Christ’s story has not changed. Paul says to Timothy, “The saying is sure and worthy of acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (First Timothy 2.15, NRSV).
Despite the words of Jesus, highlighted in red in most bibles and his model of compassion and forgiveness as recorded by the Gospels, the challenge to those who become his disciples to demonstrate his good news to others and represent the reality of one who is now a new creature in him proves difficult as race continues to be the dominant narrative (Second Corinthians 5.17). We think and in turn, behave as if we have not repented, which simply means to change one’s mind. We have not changed our minds when it comes to racism, prejudice and stereotypes despite the words of Paul to the believers in Rome: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God– what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12.2, NRSV). Sadly, the doctrine of race and divine selection according to the social coloring of skin is our good news. We believe that it is apart of God’s reality for humanity. Heaven forbid.
Perhaps, this is why we can continue to ostracize and segregate and hate and murder. We may not be concerned about the Big Brother in Orwell’s novel but the real Big brother is Jesus and he is watching us.