Tag Archives: Galatians 3.27-28

See What I’m Saying

fwjexg6i8neitktx8acrColorblind.  Post- racial.  It seems that most of us can’t see it or say it. Or, we cannot un-see people and not say things without the paradigm of race.  It is what we know and how we’ve always known each other. We don’t want to rock the boat or as I would suggest, get of the boat, this outdated box, altogether.  Abandon ship!

Besides, there’s too much history, hurt and cases of police brutality pending.  So, the jury is still out or hung or has thrown out the case altogether.  There’s not enough evidence, not enough proof to change our convictions.  Court adjourned.

We don’t even want to talk about it.  The conversation is a foolish and unnecessary one.  Things are not going to change; our words won’t make a difference.  This is the way that we have always been.

So, we go back to race, return to our prejudices and stereotypes because it is what we know.  It’s safe here.  We know what to expect, no matter how unjust or imbalanced the treatment.  We know how to interact here, no matter how reduced the authenticity of our relationships.  We know how to live in this kind of society, no matter how much of reality is distorted by race.  We have resolved that things will not change so we make ourselves comfortable in this miserable state.

But, that’s not the end of the story: “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 all of you are one in Christ Jesus” and race does not own the rights to our humanity (Galatians 3.27-28).  It confines and defines us with our permission.  Yes, we have right not to be described as socially colored black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige people.

Get out the boat and walk on the water.  Review the case and make a judgment. Leave race behind and you’ll see what I’m saying.

This may sound absurd

Sprout_Lightbulb“If at first an idea does not sound absurd, then there is no hope for it.”

~ Albert Einstein

I am not sharing the most popular message.  It has certainly been perceived as naive, misinformed and premature.  I seem to have missed a few steps, be lacking in experience or unable to see the full picture.

But what if I haven’t?  What if I saw the steps and tackled them two by two?  What if I didn’t want any more experience with race, racism, prejudice and stereotypes?  What if I have heard this story before and I know where this is going?  So, let me stop it.

The race-less gospel does not seek to ignore the crimes committed in the name of race.  No, I know that persons believe in race and feel a sense of duty to serve and protect their group based on the social theories of race.   The race-less gospel does not question the accounts of history.  I am informed as to how race came into being and what we have done in devotion to race.  I am aware that persons believe that they are colors, that the social coloring of their skin is the best indicator of their worth and how persons will value them.  But, I don’t.

The race-less gospel is the message of Jesus the Christ, the hope that those who have been baptized with Christ might die to flesh and its social meanings daily.  “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 and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3.27-28, NRSV).  There is no longer socially colored beige/ black/ brown/ red/ yellow/ white.  Our categories do not fit into Christ and once we have put on Christ, everything is covered.  We are one body in Christ and it is category-less.

I know that it sounds absurd but I like the way that it sounds.

A Declaration of Independence from Race

“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.

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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.

Does Race Give Credit?

Today, I attended a briefing at the White House with sixty other Baptists from around the nation; afterwards, I attended a debriefing over a very late lunch; and after that, I attended a ministers meeting at the church where I currently serve. To say the least, it has been a long day but it’s been a productive, a useful one. I have great joy at this late hour because while I waited for my food to arrive, I opened my Bible and began to read the lectionary readings for the week. As often occurs, I continued to read beyond the designated scriptures and found myself being fed in the best way.

This week’s readings included Paul’s epistle to the Romans. Chapter four and verses 20 through 24 read: “He (Moses) did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, because he was fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. Therefore it was credited to him for righteousness. Now it was credited to him was not written for Abraham alone, but also for us.  It will be credited to us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.” 

I pray that I too will have the faith of Moses as I believe in the promise of God through His Son, Jesus Christ: “I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in Me through their (the disciples) message. May they be all one as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You; May they also be one in Us so that the world may believe You sent Me. I have given them the glory You have given Me. May they be one as We are one. I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so the world may know You have sent Me and have loved them as You have loved Me” (John 17.20-23). Likewise, I share the conviction of the apostle Paul: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is no Jew or Greek, no slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3.27-28). Jesus prayed for the unity of future believers and I believe with all my heart that we will not remain separate forever.

So, tonight, I wonder what will race give us for our faith in its colors and categories, its stereotypes and prejudices? What will be our reward for trusting in race? What promise or prayer does it fulfill? What do we think our credit for believing in race will be?