Category Archives: Race and Christology

Not Your Average Identity

During this season of Lent, a kind of forty- day challenge for some believers, I have been reflecting on surrender and what we mean when we say, “I give up.”  In the practice of our faith, according to the terms and conditions of our discipleship, giving up is a good thing.  Dare I say, it is the goal.  “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me'” (Matthew 16.24).

In our surrender to the Spirit of God and the denial of self- gratification, we practice a little of Christ’s death.  In denying our carnal selves, we accept more of the spiritual life of Jesus.  Because he denied himself on a daily basis in service to humanity and as a servant of God’s will: “not my will but yours” (Luke 22.42).

He could have been full of himself.  He could have touted his successes.  He could have pointed to the number of angels that follow him.  He could have boasted of all his creations– but he didn’t.

But, the social construct of race does just the opposite.  It puts the confidence and the change in our flesh.  Whether privilege or powerless, it is a work outside of the Spirit of God.  Race says because of the social coloring of skin, beige, black, brown, red, yellow, white, we are valuable and worthy.

But, if we are following the social construct of race, we are walking in the opposite direction of Jesus Christ.  Race puts our flesh up front and says that if we are this “color,” then we are good, acceptable, blessed, righteous, pure, upright.  This is heresy.

It is not your average, run of the mill identity but competes with our identity in Christ Jesus.

Race say that there is no change, no room for improvement.  We are who the social coloring of our skin says that we are.  There is no wiggle room but these are our marching orders.  We can only fall in line as there is no place for those who would not surrender to the color- code.  But, we cannot be a disciple of Christ and race?  Either you are going to be a color or a Christian but you cannot be both– because Christ’s is not your average identity.

The Separation of Race and Faith

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The social construct of race and its commandments are often used as supplemental material for the Bible.  Or, we take out the characters of the Bible altogether and insert our culture– but no one else’s.  God’s promises are for us and not them.  God is talking to us and not them.  The social construct of race empowers us to become replacement saviors and we step in as if Christ extended an invitation to us to fill his shoes.  Though often described as “the hands and feet of Christ,” there are no holes in either.

In fact, the social construct of race does not encourage us to open our hands to others but to walk in the opposite direction and self- segregate.  Our “color” made righteous, it is our skin that sets us apart.  The darkness reduced to flesh, we wrestle against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6.12).

For good or for ill, it is our race that gets the credit.  All glory belongs to socially colored beige/ black/ brown/ red/ yellow/ white people.  It is an accepted and understandable heresy.  We excuse this form of idolatry because it is the worship of self.

Race and its progeny do not echo the words of Christ; it does not enable or enhance his ministry.  Race is not a messenger of the gospel; it is good news is for “me and mine.”  Race leaves the world out and makes our culture the world around which everyone else should revolve.  This is why it is important to declare that the gospel of Jesus Christ is race-less.

Race does not work for God but against our humanity.  The social construct of race was and is not a part of the plan of salvation for human beings.  Our “race” does not gain us access to God.  Our righteousness is not in the social coloring of flesh but in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross.  Confessing a race says that we belong to a colored people but as Christians, we are the people of God.

So, what will it be?  You and I will need to separate race from our faith.  Made in the image of God, the social construct of race does not supplement our identity.  We cannot be a colored person and a child of God at the same time.  Because it was never about having the right skin but being in right relationship with God.  It was the blood of Christ not the skin of Christ that saved us.

It is our hands that have gotten in the way.  Consequently, our hands will need to do the separating.  Race or our Christian faith?  Choose this day which one you will serve.

 

The theology of race

theology-570x420Why I am so adamant when it comes to my position on race and its position behind me?  Why can’t race represent me or introduce me?  Why do its prejudices not speak for my neighbor, the stranger or the immigrant?  Why can’t its stereotypes inform my understanding of human beings?  I’m glad that you asked.

I don’t like the social construct of race because its ways and will for humanity and our relationships conflict with my understanding of God.  Frankly, I don’t like what race says, suggests, infers and implies about God.  And it frightens me, disturbs me what we will do for race, what we say about God in order to support the social construct of race.

But, race is not a theologian.  Race is not a believer.  Race is not a Christian: righteous, set a part.

Race is an idol, hand made, fashioned with our tongues.  Race is a false god who spreads lies about the true and living God.  What lies?

Race says that God creates no one new, that God is a copy cat, that we are all the same in our cultural groups, members of a boxed set, a collection of social colors.  Race teaches us that God stereotypes.

Race says that God sees each culture according to race, that God uses race, condones its practices and endorses its beliefs concerning our humanness.   Race implies that God treats us according to the social coloring of skin, that it is a part of God’s plan, purpose and will, that God is pre- judging us according to the image that He made us in.  Race teaches us that God is prejudiced.

Race says that God is colored, that God is socially colored beige/ black/ brown/ red/ white/ yellow, that we can create God in our own image, that God is not the Spirit, that God is somehow more human, more of a social color than divine (John 4.24).  Race teaches us that God is flesh and thereby limited, unable to be omnipresent.

Race says that we can put God on our side, the side of the oppressed or the privileged, that we can discern based on the outward appearance who God loves and hates, who God accepts and rejects.  Race teaches us that God is predictable, that we can know His ways.

Race is the false teacher, an instructor without credentials, a messenger.  We make it up as we go along.  We must stop teaching race.  It is a learned behavior that neither edifies us nor glorifies God.  Being a member of a socially constructed racial group does not mean that we will get extra credit.  In fact, it is the wrong answer to questions concerning our identity for those who believe.

We are who God says we are not who race says that God says that we are.  That’s gossip.  That’s hearsay.  That’s not the truth.

So, when race enters a room, don’t sit down and pull up a chair.  Don’t listen because race knows nothing about God and consequently, race knows nothing about you.