Tag Archives: post- racial gospel

Unpacking the baggage of race

mood_tim-walker_iris-palmer-and-her-suitcases_italian-vogueThe American racial identity is baggage.  It is a bunch of small containers for our humanity that transport us to the destiny of history.  Race is a round trip backward.

There is so much to race, so much that we have to hold on to and positions that we cannot let go.  Race is cumbersome and gets in the way of who we really are.  It impedes our movement and slows our lives down.

The social construct of race is burdensome and too heavy to carry.  So, we should just put it down.  It is of no benefit and who packed these bags anyway?

Check the tag; where are we going with race?  How much is it going to cost?  Where is race taking us?  And do we really want to continue on this path?

Its history is heavy.  Its convictions are loaded.  Its summaries concerning human life are weighty.  We need to put race down. Being and identifying who we are is not this hard.  It does not take this much strength to be who God created us to be.

We are not what is in those bags?  We are not hatred or prejudice, anger or resentment, bitterness or jealousy, wrath or unforgiveness.  These are feelings not faces.  But, all of these things are folded neatly in the baggage of race, stored just in case we need to wear them.  And this is why our hearts are heavy and our souls are weighted down.  It is because race is a burden not a blessing.

These carry on items do not allow us to carry on with life as God intended but we have to stop and start again every day.  So, let’s unpack the baggage because where we are going, race is not needed.

 

Dear Body of Christ

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Dear Body of Christ,

We are the Body of Christ, not the race or races of Christ.  We are not colors but the children of God, not stereotypes but the saints of God, not prejudicial guesses but members of a royal priesthood.  I thought that we were called to walk in the spirit not after the flesh, that we had been called to worship in the spirit not according to our flesh, that we had been commanded to love as Christ does not as our culture requires.

We are the Body of Christ, the Church of the living Christ of which he is the chief cornerstone.  But, Christ did not lay the foundation of race.  Racism was not a part of the blueprint for our being.  Prejudice is not an architect of our humanity. None of this was ever a part of God’s plan for us.

We are the Body of Christ, the bride of Christ, married to one groom.  There has been but one joining, one wedding ceremony, one covenant shared, one vow made.  Christ does not have multiple wives: a Black Church, a White Church, a Red Church, a Brown Church, a Yellow Church, a Beige Church. We are called to be one Body, members of one another. It’s impossible to be a body if we are not.

Sincerely,

A concerned member

A Trip Down Race-less Memory Lane

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I have written a lot about race and race-lessness these past three years.  So, I decided to reflect on a few of the posts that surprised me most in their creation and those that have been most read  my you, my readers.  I’ll try to keep the list short but it’s really hard to pick favorite memories of growth as all were essential.  Keep in mind, I have provided more than 600 posts that have included personal writings, resourceful article links and informative videos.  Of the more than 600 posts, I will choose 10… I hope.  Your applause and prayers are requested as this is a great feat.  Thank you.

1. The journey begins.  My first post and first step into this journey to race-lessness.  With one step forward and years of research, I asked readers to “Join The Daily Race” as the blog was called then.

2.  “The Ten Race Commandments” captured the revelation that race has commandments and that the commandments of race can prevent us from practicing the commandments of Christ.

3.  “Forgiving Words” challenged readers to view race as a bully and to acknowledge the pain that its words have caused us and then to forgive the words.

4.  “The Seven Deadly Sins of Race” pushed me farther away from the social construct and allowed me to see race as a sinful construct.

5.  “The Reconciling Race Series” asked, “What does our belief in race settle or solve for us?”

6.  “Race’s Model Prayer” uses Christ’s model prayer to demonstrate the differences between a belief in race and the Christian faith.

7.  “When We Color Ourselves” is a poem that points out the problem with the social coloring of skin and “the color line.”  See also “Undoing Race: Putting No Confidence in the Flesh.”  I suppose that would count as two.  Forgive me.  Keep praying.

8.  “Ten Ways that God Transcends Race” seeks to address and demolish the argument that God can be subjected to the social coloring of skin.  God is not socially colored black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige.

9.  “Black Disadvantage: Unpacking The Obvious Baggage of Blackness” is a popular post and it was written to be partnered with Peggy McIntosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack.”   I think that the title speaks for itself.

10.  “A Declaration of Racial Exceptionalism” captures my healing to date as it relates to the social construct of race and the practice of my Christian faith.

We’ve come along way it seems but we have so much farther to go.  I love the spiritual exercise of writing this blog and hope that I never forget the importance of this work.  I’m going to keep writing and walking this race-less path.  I’m so glad that I have you to journey with.

 

Race is a ‘different gospel’

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel– not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are confusing you and want to pervert the gospel.  But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaim to you, let that one be accursed!  As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed!”

~ Galatians 1.6-9, NRSV

Paul writes to the churches of Galatia and to us to remind us of the freedom that we have in Jesus the Christ.  The churches in Galatia had been converted to this new faith and were walking in its liberating life and love.  Paul had removed the shackles of regulations only to return and find them restored.  And it happened rather quickly!

Why?  Because it was familiar and it was what they knew.  They knew the law but were not yet familiar with God’s grace, that is God’s unmerited favor not based on works or in our case, the social coloring of skin.

This response is similar to that of today’s Christians.  We have experienced an emancipatory conversion through our relationship with Jesus and now live in the Spirit, liberated from the laws of the flesh.  But, it does not take long before we, too, turn our ears to those familiar voices and experiences.  Afraid of the newness of life that Christ provided, we will arrest ourselves and detain ourselves.  We will sentence ourselves and walk back into the cages of the socially constructed identities of race and the legality of the social coloring of skin.  This is not the gospel of Jesus Christ.  This is a different gospel.

What is the gospel, the good new of Jesus the Christ for the 21st century?  It the same message that was given in the first century: “The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (First Timothy 1.15).  Those are the only persons that he came for and it is the only category that all of humanity fits into.  We post- modern Christians want to do as Christians have before us.  We want to make the gospel new and even popular.  Well, referring to humanity as sinners is not new and it certainly isn’t popular.

What do race and sin have to do with each other?  What sin does the belief in race produce?  Race is pride in appearance, the external salvation of the self and the belief in the supremacy of humanity– even above God.  Race says that our salvation is found in the social coloring of skin not the salvific work of Christ on the cross.

It is an old sin draped in new words.  But, the worst of its kind, the creature attempting to be like the Creator in ability and knowledge.  Race offers the same deal that the serpent in the Genesis narrative offered to Eve (Genesis 3.1-7).  And the Church’s response imitates that of Adam: silent acceptance and subordination to race.

Frankly, the American Church is but a tool, a part of the machinery of capitalism as it was for slavery and Naziism.  Today, the Church is commercialized, a brand that wants to sell a new product.  We want to have the “latest and the greatest,” the shiny new toy.  But, the message of Jesus Christ is more than two thousand years old and it has not changed.  We have changed but Jesus has not.  He is “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13.8).

We have allowed race to translate the gospel instead of the gospel translating race to us.  Race tells us who Jesus is and not vice versa.  Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon write in Resident Aliens, “By the very act of our modern theological attempts at translation, we have unconsciously distorted the gospel and transformed it into something it never claimed to be… (We have) transformed the gospel rather than ourselves” (22-23).

We can change the methodology but what it means to be Christian today is the same as it was when Jesus walked the earth: “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).  The cost of discipleship remains unchanged: follow Jesus, deny yourself and die.

Race is a perversion of the gospel.  It says, “Follow socially colored white people.  Deny yourself in order to become like them (i.e. “act white”) and die to the true, authentic and new self that God has called and created you to be.  It is the good news of the flesh, the celebration of the social coloring of skin and that skin is ‘white’ (but not really).  This is not the gospel of Jesus Christ but different gospel and I join in Paul’s repetition, “As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed!”  Race is another gospel.