“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 you are one in Christ Jesus.”
~ Galatians 3.27-28, NRSV
I love the book of Galatians. The letter written to the church is direct and full of passion. Paul is angry and disappointed with the new converts. So important is the message that Paul has to share with them that he does not even provide a thanksgiving. After his greeting, he gets right to the point. He skips the formula and gets right to the facts.
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel” (cf. 1.6-8). Christ has delivered them from old bondage but this new freedom is perhaps too new and unfamiliar. So, they go back to what they are use to.
Their message message is more of the old: regulations according to the flesh (i.e. circumcision) and not the freedom found in Christ’s sacrifice as Paul preached. Jesus has done it all. He has paid it all through his flesh; there is nothing that ours can do to add to our salvation. “It is finished” (John 19.30). We are not dependent on our flesh to do anything; circumcision is a solely physical exercise.
Race makes us dependent upon the social coloring of skin for meaning, purpose and value. We look at our skin for our identity. We look to our flesh for counsel and direction. We ask race to tell us how to behave, what to believe, how to treat persons and ourselves. We are not willing to imagine our lives independent of race. Despite the work of Christ on the cross and in his body, we continue to turn to ours as proof of our chosen-ness. Like Paul, it is my task to remind us of the message of Christ and his ministry to all nations, reconciling us to him irregardless of the social coloring of our flesh.
And in celebration of our country’s independence, I thought it necessary to make a declaration of my own. You are certainly welcome to join me. I must warn you that it won’t come with fireworks and family gatherings over barbecue. There are no parades (just yet) for this declaration but you can wave and smile in the mirror if you like. Throw a few pieces of candy if you like.
It is a unanimous decision of my heart, mind and soul to no longer view my body or its existence in God’s world through the lens of race. I believe it necessary now and hereafter to separate my body and its members from the government of race and to acknowledge the full and uncompromised power of God over my life. I confess that race is an idol, conjured by the human mind and created with human hands.
I will not relate to my family members, friends, neighbors, strangers or the like according to the prejudices of race. I will not restrict the possibilities of my faith and the God that I serve to the stereotypes of race. I declare that the work of Christ’s flesh provides my salvation and frees me from the body of this social death. Today and every day, I declare my independence from race.