What is the race-less gospel of Jesus Christ? Is it new or revelatory? No. It is captured in the Holy Scriptures and offered to us as believers. But we, as Christians, have not been able to accept God’s vision for humanity due to the social realities of injustice, violence and oppression caused by our acceptance of the socio- cultural construct of race, our belief in prejudice, our practice of racism, our employment of stereotypes and our choice to live as segregationists.
As Christians in America, we have accepted Christ and race, joining two as one religion. This is most evident in our racialized images of God and Jesus the Christ and our segregated churches. But, the two are not partners, co- laborers or co- creators of humanity. Race is an idol; a god of our creation. This is why they do not work together and they will not work together no matter how hard we try.
In short, we are blinded by race, distracted by the world of the senses. We praise God for making us new creatures in Christ Jesus (Second Corinthians 5.16-17) and with the same mouth and often within the same conversation, complain about the historical oppressions that restrict our abilities and limit our aspirations due to race. We live by the words of race and in so doing, have reduced the vastness of our being in our minds.
This is where the change must begin. The mind is the place where the first steps are taken. We must begin to move away from race in our thinking, no longer giving our thoughts to racism, stereotypes and prejudices. We must take our minds, our thought lives back from race. If we do not open our minds to this possibility, this truth, then our ears will not be opened to receive it. “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11.15).
The race-less gospel of Jesus Christ is this:
You are not a racial being but a human being. You are not the sum total of your external attributes. You are not the social coloring of your skin, the texture of your hair, the shape of your eyes, the size of your nose or the width of your lips. Your life’s worth and its meaning is internal, intrinsic. Your appearance will change but your value to God will not fluctuate because of it. You are made in the image of God not the image of race. “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness” (Genesis 1.26).
You are not even what your culture says you are or what your social status or gender suggest. None of those social designations or boxes matter to God. “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 or female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3.27-28).
You are made by God’s design not according to race’s stereotypes. God did not design you based on the social will of race or assign your life’s purpose according to the stereotypes of race. Race is not the architect of humanity. You are not the dumping ground for fear, shame, guilt and blame. Your life is not based on the past performance of your ancestors but the future plan that God has for you. Jeremiah captures the voice of the Lord, saying, “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” (Jeremiah 29.11).
Your existence is not based upon what you are not. You were not created via negativa (that is, a “negative path). You were not made as a comparison but an equal to all other human beings. You are not here as a supplement, an addition but you are fully human, possessing all of the dreams and rights to dreams as any one born before or after you. No one is ever more human than anyone else. John, a disciple and New Testament writer, dispels the thought that the will of race is what determines our lives. He writes, “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man but of God” (John 1.12-13).
Race has nothing to do with God’s sovereign rule of you. It is not a part of divine meetings concerning your life. Race does not have the ear of God and when God talks about you, race is never apart of the conversation. It does not have a representative, a voice or a vote. The Trinity remains the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
You are who you are because of God’s word not race’s. God spoke you into existence not race. Your life is to follow the path and the plan of God. How do I know this? The prophet Isaiah provides this revelation: “So shall my word be that goes from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty; but it shall accomplish that which I purpose and succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55.11).
You are not defined by the prejudices of others. You are not what people don’t like about you; you are what God loves about you. You are not who people fear; you are who God trusts and has faith in. “For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made ” (Psalm 139.13-14). God knows you better than race and gave His son for you. Paul shares with the church at Rome and with us, “But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5.8).
The good news of the life, ministry, death, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus the Christ is for all bodies. Jesus the Christ died to save you from sin not the social coloring of skin. We know that the flesh of our bodies does not have eternal life, that God is seeking to save the eternal part of us, our souls.
This message is not just for “them” but for all of “us.” God’s love is not prejudicial and God’s provision is not segregated. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3.16). God so loved the world in its entirety– not the first world or the third world, not this continent or that country– that He gave. God did not pick and choose who He would give to, who He would save, who He would love.
Unlike us, God loves everyone and is for and in favor of everyone. God desires to be in relationship with all of us. This is true love and this is the way that we are called to love– unconditionally and without prejudice, race-lessly. That’s good news!