“The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers…”
~ Ephesians 4.11, NRSV
Unfortunately, most of us treat the social coloring of skin, the shape of our noses the texture of our hair as a gift from God. However, we believe that some not all social colors, noses and hair textures are… gifts from God. God gave gifts to some but not to all.
But, this understanding of creation presents problems for Christians who believe we are all God’s children, that God shows no favoritism and thus, gives no special favors. God created humanity and called this creation “good.” We were created without comparison and without competition. We were all good.
But race has a different message: “And he gave some white folks, some black folks, some red folks, some brown folks, some beige folks.” This is the gospel of race not to be confused with the gospel of Jesus Christ or the creation narrative found in Genesis. This is another gospel, another creation of human origin that suggests that God created some bad and some good, some beautiful and some ugly, some powerful and some powerless. It suggests that our external appearance determines our purpose in society. However, there is no mention of such in the Bible.
We are not the five kinds of human beings that Johann Friedrich Blumenbach proclaimed. He called us human races. But, he was an anthropologist and physician not a prophet or a theologian. Blumenbach is not to be compared with the Apostle Paul, James, the brother of Jesus or John, the Revelator.
No, the Bible teaches us that we are one: one kind of flesh, one kind of body, one kind of purpose. We are not created different, all made of breath and dust. Though we are used differently, it is for the same goal: the glory of God. And what human being is able to measure the glory that each gift brings?
“Not all flesh is alike, but there is one flesh for human beings” (I Corinthians 15.39). There are not different types of flesh because of the social coloring of skin. We are not colored people but God’s people, God’s children. It is not a matter of culture as are relatedness reaches deeper, our connectedness goes well past skin. It goes beyond family trees but we are connected to the Vine (John 15.5).
We are spending our lives fussing over and fighting about the accessories of our humanity: ‘skin color,’ hair texture, eye and nose shape. Instead, we should be focusing on the attributes of our humanity: loving, just, creative, strong, compassionate, loyal, believing, gifts.