Tag Archives: post-racial

A New Revised Serenity Prayer

See the source imageGod, grant me the serenity to accept that people are not the same,

Courage to change my perspective and to challenge my prejudices,

And the wisdom to celebrate our differences.

Amen.

 

 

Not Worth Much

Image result for the priceYesterday, I shared a message with the congregation titled, “Costly Obedience.”  Unpacking the well- known hymn recorded in Philippians 2.5-11, I invited listeners to consider again the price that Christ paid for our sins.  It was a costly obedience because he was obedient to the point of death– not obedient for personal gain, not agreeable to pacify.  Christ was obedient to the end of himself, his will to live surrendered for our sake.

But, we see so much death these days.  With church bombings in Egypt and the gassing of children in Syria, we could get use to it.  Paranoia or succumbing to our circumstances seem to be the only viable options.  However, this is not simply “the world we live in now”; it is the world we have created.  Not to be confused with the kingdom of God, this is not heaven for any of us.  Persons are paying the price for our theological disagreements, our contests for power and need for recognition with their lives.  This kind of belief paid in dead children’s bodies is an unfathomable exchange.

This, of course, led me to begin thinking about the identities we hold on to, inherit and pass down to our children.  In America’s racialized society, we fight for colored bodies, for black power, white power and visibility.  Somehow, we learned that this identity connects us to some truth greater than ourselves, that being defined by the social coloring of skin is worth something.  And persons will spend their lives emptying themselves of their culture, language and mannerisms in order to be filled with “whiteness.”   For many, it is believed to be the complete and full expression of our humanity, the supreme (human) being.

Race is a kind of religion with a racialized deity, creating good and bad bodies.  We create Christ in our image to prove that our bodies are valuable.  But, what does it cost to be a racial being?  Who paid the price for us to call ourselves beige, brown, black, red, yellow and white?  Surely, it is was not Christ.  Jesus did not die on the cross so that we could become white people– but God’s people.

How much did it cost?  Did persons really die so that you and I could identify as a socially colored person or in order for you to have the rights that belong to all human beings, regardless of the constructs that we create to withhold them?  Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in The Cost of Discipleship, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”  But, what of our racialized selves do we bury?  What funeral service have we held for black power or white nationalism?  Show me where we have buried this social identity?

Disproven by all sciences, we continue to keep race alive.  And if we have learned nothing of death, it is this– our skin serves no purpose in a grave.  When I look at Christ’s cross, I am reminded that the identity offered in race is not worth much.

 

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.

Loosen Up

Loosen-up-your-gripI feel the need to say again and again that you are not made up of a color, that you cannot be summed up by your skin.  There is more to you and this is a lesser part.  Of all that God is created on your body, still we focus on the layer that covers it all.  Still, we are not interested in going deeper, intrigued by what we do not know about ourselves.  While there is much that is unknown in outer space, there is more to be explored in our inner space.  Don’t you want to see who’s underneath?

And this is a meaning imagined for you are not socially colored beige, black, brown, red, yellow or white.  This is not even the real you.  Race does not even come close to being you.  Don’t you want to know who you are?  Don’t you want to meet her/ him?  How sad it would be to live as a stranger, never meeting one’s self.

But, this does not have to be.  We need only wiggle around a little.  Question race a little.  Just ask one question and the box that it holds you will immediately feel differently.

We have become comfortable with the social positions of race, used to its creases, the folds, the ways in which we were prepackaged to fit.  We only know how to think of ourselves within the confines of race. Nevertheless, I hope that we would begin to live a life that breaks the seal.

Don’t allow race to box you in or to box you up.  Push back.  Create dents.

Don’t buy into the illusion that this category, this box is neater, safer and allows for easy identification and belonging.  A box is a box.  It is for purposes temporary.  A box is used for storage, often times when moving from one place to another.  Well, where are we going with race?

And when do you plan to arrive?  Open yourself up to the possibility of life without race.  Shake off the dust of its history.

Open your mouth and you will open the box.  Don’t say what fits but go where there is room for you.  Let me warn you.  You’ll need to loosen up.

Approximately Ten Power Thoughts For Living Without Race

imgresI think about race and its absence in the presence of our humanity every day.  I pray for wisdom and ways to communicate the absolute certainty that God did not create us to be judged by the social coloring of our skin.  I have heard this message loud and clear from God.  Now, I cannot pretend that I have not heard it and I can not keep it to myself.

It has changed what I say and how I see people.  I would be lying if I said that I see persons according to race.  I just don’t believe it and I don’t believe in it.  I just don’t see it anymore.  Call me a race atheist.

I could write about it all day and platforms like Twitter allow me to do so @racelessgospel.  Here are ten power statements that I shared in 140 characters or less.

  1. Race makes copies but God makes originals.
  2. We must accept the newness that Jesus Christ offers whether society sees it or not.
  3. Race is not a personal introduction of who we are but a social conclusion about who we are.
  4. We do not look to the social coloring of our skin for meaning but to the Spirit that inspires us.
  5. Expand your vocabulary of our humanity and you will enlarge your vision of our humanity.  Race is just one word.
  6. Identify with God.
  7. We will need to choose bigger words, that fit all human beings. Anything else is small talk.
  8. God did not create you to be bound by the social coloring of your skin but to live in and through and by the Spirit.
  9. Don’t wait for race to tell you who you are. Find out for yourself.
  10. We must start to take down the segregation signs in our minds that cause us to divide our relationships and our reasoning into us and them.
  11. Bonus! (I couldn’t leave this one out.) Don’t allow society or culture or family to cram your humanity into a racial category.  You were not made to fit.