“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
~ Jeremiah 1.5, NRSV
How does God know us? This opening statement of God’s calling of the Old Testament weeping prophet Jeremiah says that God knows us a part from our bodies and likewise, a part from the social coloring of skin. We are known before the stereotypes associated with our physicality and its appearance. He tells Jeremiah and in doing so, shares with us that we are known before we are formed. Thus, God’s thoughts about us are not influenced by race.
Before hair texture and eye color were determined, before size of lips and shape of nose were described, God knew us. God’s knowledge of humanity precedes pregnancy tests and sonograms. Before we were shaped inside of our mother’s womb and thus, before conception, God knew us. And if these things, then certainly God knew us before and a part from race as it knowledge is based on our form and its social coloring. But, God does not need our body in order to know us because God does not know us as we know ourselves or as we come to know others.
We also learn from Jeremiah’s call narrative that before our parents found out our gender or decided on a name, God gave us a purpose. We were designed for a particular work. Before we were born, before we were seen, we were given a destiny. Thus, the judgments or prejudices of race do not work in concert with or support the plan of God for our lives.
God’s knowledge of us is pre- race and while I cannot explain this knowing, I can say that it is not superficial or political or temporal. No, it is something much deeper and truer. Thus, it is my prayer that I would come to know myself as I am known by God. I want to know who I was before race. Amen.