“So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you will also be revealed with him in glory.”
~ Colossians 3.1-4, NRSV
Baptized and raised with Christ, we are dead yet born again. It is both a funeral and a wedding, earth and altar, old nature gone: “ashes to ashes and dust to dust” and new name given: “I now pronounce you…” We are not said the same because we are not seen the same. So, what of our own eyes?
We have been raised with Christ and are commanded to search, to actively look for things that are above. We have been raised with Christ and thus, are also able to rise above situations, to set our minds on things that are above. It is not due to our own strength but Christ’s resurrection power at work within us. It is only because we have been raised with him, lifted, elevated, positioned higher and consequently, given a different perspective.
This is how we are able to get above the battle, how we are equipped to look beyond the war of words, the latest and most tragic event brought to us by racism. It is because we have been positioned in Christ (John 15.4; Galatians 2.20; First John 4.15). And we must see and speak from this place. We must live and move from this place that is not race neutral or colorblind but race-less.
This place is not ensnared by race’s prejudicial history or positioned to respond based on stereotypical expectations. It owes no one, has no cultural or social allegiances, is without economic dependence or investment. Instead, it comes from an eternal place; its decisions and decisiveness not determined by time, media cycles or the fickleness of what is in and out, popular, acceptable, correct.
This place is much deeper, a steeper ascent for the soul. A place that does not require or depend on flesh: the Spirit. And while this seems easier to write than do, still we must do it or we ought not say that we be it: Christian, Christ- like, believer, disciple, follower of the Way. We must speak from our birthplace as Christ said to Nicodemus, “You must be born from above” (John 3.7).
The other option is to wait for the next injury, to lie down and take it, to talk about it and take it, to protest and take it, to debate it and take it. The only other option is to continue to live as race’s latest and greatest victim. And every time that it hits us, we say, “That’s it! I’ve had enough! I cannot live with this! I can’t take it!” But, then we do. Again and again and again.
Then, time passes and the distance of days makes it hard to maintain our position. Our anger and disgust wanes. Our tears dry up. The pain and our hurt subsides. We have to go to work, to school, to church, to the theater, to the grocery story, back to business as usual, to our cultural corners to recover and prepare for next time… because there is always next time.
This race war causes us to live from offense to offense. It has gone on for hundreds of years and I am afraid for the generations that will be enlisted as there is no discussion of surrender or solution. There seems to be no end in sight, no new strategy other than fight, no white flags waving.
This is why we are not in a place of healing. This is why we cannot address the wounds. It is because we cannot live beyond our flesh; we cannot move above our skin. Sometimes, it is hardest to do because we won’t say it: race- less.
We must live above race, move beyond the offenses and stop this cycle of socially acceptable violence. We must have a way of being and seeing that is beyond the interactions of our flesh so that we can live with and love our selves, our neighbor and our God… so, that we don’t see our selves, our neighbor or our God as an offense, remembering that “whatever is born of God conquers the world” (First John 5.4).