I shared a meditation at a Maundy Thursday service last night titled “Do as I do.” It is a command that highlights the disconnect between our words and our actions. We know and say what is right but so often, we do not do what is right. We point out the rule while side- stepping the practice of it. We are great enforcers of the law but poor practitioners. The same can be said of our life in Christ. What of his life do we imitate, especially during this Holy Week?
What of ourselves follows Jesus to the cross? Thomas will see the nail prints in Jesus’ hands but where are yours? What of you has died so that Christ might live more truly and fully? Where have you made room for him?
As Christians, there is only one that we can follow. We do not follow personalities but chase after the very presence of God in Christ and therefore, in us. One with God, this is the deepest and truest fellowship.
We do not follow our culture or the social coloring of our skin but the Christ who is bound by neither. He is the only one whose words match his actions and who can say, “Do as I do.” So, we are not stereotypical people. We are not your average, run of the mill, same old, racialized beings. No, that was nailed to his cross, clinched in his hands.
No longer Jews nor Greeks, how do we see ourselves as colored people anyway? That old self and its identity died on the Friday we call good. We no longer live in our flesh but in, through and by the spirit of Christ. The social construct of race, the racialized self has been buried with Christ. It will not survive the resurrection.
Why can’t God be socially colored black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige? Why can’t we have color- coded theologies? They are an expression of our experience, we argue. But, these theologies are rooted in our experiences with each other not God. The God of blackness/ whiteness/ redness/ brownness/ yellowness/ beigeness is not the God of the Old or New Testaments. We use God in our understanding of race; race is not subjected to our understanding about God. And therein lies the problem.
We need a race-less theology because we need to return to a theology that seeks to understand God as God expresses God’s self in the world instead of how we, as human beings, experience oppression or privilege in the world. This is not theology but a secular anthropology. God does not relate to us as racial beings or in racially motivated ways; thus, God should not be subjected to the characteristics of race. Theology must be about God and not about race or privilege or oppression as God neither sees us as races nor seeks to privilege or oppress us based on race. While the social issue of race and the practice of racism is important, neither drives nor determines the identity, ability, authority or will of God.
A race- less theology or a theology that argues for the race-lessness of God is needed because order, balance and truth must be restored. There is no hierarchy of human beings. God alone is supreme. There is no master race. God is the only master. There is no flesh that is good, best or better than any other. God is the only Potter. We are all fashioned from the same lump of clay and these earthen vessels will all return to the earth where they belong.
Having a god that comes in the social color of our choosing, who sides with our predicament, who supports our conclusions about those we have deemed the “other”, who can only understand who we are if of the same physical appearance and social status is not the promise or the hope of the Christian faith. This is not God but an idol, a racial deity. This theology of race-lessness seeks to untangle the Christian faith from the snare of race and its progeny; to separate race from Christianity and Christianity from race; to raise the Church’s voice against this social construct, pointing us back to our beginning in and with God; and to draw distinct lines as to the differences between race and Christianity. The Church’s battle is with sin not skin.