Tag Archives: Second Corinthians 5.17

I am a new creature

In Christ, I begin again. Old time is gone, no longer to be seen again. New time is present. I need only to attend to it, to attest to it. I am here and I am right now.

I am a new creature.

In Christ, I begin again. A stereotype is a repeated identity. God doesn’t stutter when He speaks. He will not say my name again.

I am a new creature.

In Christ, I begin again. God is not human that He should lie[1] and I am a word of truth.[2] I am shining, sparkling, untouched by temporal opinion.

I am a new creature.

In Christ, I begin again. Life after the death of the old self is without historical conflicts or conflicting identities, eulogized at his tomb and my womb: “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” Christ is risen and so I rise.

I am a new creature.

 

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[1] Numbers 23.19

[2] James 1.18

A Race-less Meditation

Our world relies mostly on the external for interpretation, meaning and understanding.  We know what we see and we believe it when we see it.  We judge a person based on appearance; we look them over and surmise that we have them all figured out when all we have done is ascribe to them the meaning that we feel they deserve.  We give them the words that we have left and they usually are much and no better than we are.

It all comes down to appearance.   We can dress for success and it doesn’t matter what is really going on inside of us so long as we can “look the part.”  But, what part do we play with race and what role is race playing in our understanding of life, the way in which we view ourselves, our neighbor and our God?  And how can the external, the physical, the body, the flesh, the socially constructed (that is, race) give meaning to what is spiritual, to what is divine, to what is mysterious, to what is unseen, to what is hidden inside of us?

Does everything happen in your life for a reason and is that reason always race?  If you hold this to be true, then this meditation is for you.  You have so much faith in race; I want you to at least pretend that you can live without it, that there is something more to you than your external appearance, that Someone knows you better.

Say these words with me:

I am not who race says that I am; I am who God says that I am: a child of God not a color of race, a son/ a daughter of God not a socially colored skin.

I am always a human being not a racial being.  I can never be reduced to anything less– with or without my permission.

I am not a stereotype; I am a new creature in Christ Jesus, sacred and God’s beloved (Second Corinthians 5.17).

I am not what persons have done to me but my worth is proven by what God has done for me (cf. John 3.16; Romans 5.8)

I belong to God, a member of His royal priesthood and holy nation (First Peter 2.9).  I am not a member of a race; I am a member of the Body of Christ.

I am at home with God who made us all not with people who “look like me.”

God includes all of “us”; there is no “them.”  There is no fight within or without.

I am race-less.  Amen.

Except Me

Soon Daniel distinguished himself above all the other presidents and satraps because an excellent spirit was in him, and the king planned to appoint him over the whole kingdom. So the presidents and the satraps tried to find grounds for complaint against Daniel in connection with the kingdom. But they could find no grounds for complaint or any corruption because he was faithful and no negligence or corruption could be found in him. The men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”

So the presidents and satraps conspired and came to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! All the presidents of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an interdict, that whoever prays to anyone, divine or human, for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into a den of lions. Now, O king, establish the interdict and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Therefore King Darius signed the document and interdict.

~ Daniel 6.3-9, NRSV

The story of Daniel’s deliverance from the lion’s den is a familiar one.  His faithfulness to God still stands out today.  He broke the king’s law in order to keep his commitment to God.  His enemies also stand out; unable to find fault with his work performance, they sought to use his faith against him.

Thrown into the lion’s den for his unwillingness to pray to King Darius, the Lord honors Daniel’s commitment and shuts the lions’ mouths.  In so doing, he shuts the mouths of his enemies.  They are in awe and amazement that Daniel is not devoured.  The lions are meat- eaters and should’ve been man- eaters.  But, God changes their appetite or perhaps, fills their bellies just as Daniel had filled his mouth with prayer.  God caused the lion to lay down with the lamb (Isaiah 11.6).

Daniel was an exceptional leader, entrusted with authority and responsibilities in the ruling of Darius’ kingdom.  His service to King Darius was unmatched but his service to God is placed above all other commitments.  He is not concerned about his position or a paycheck but continues to pray to his God.  He does not reduce the number of times that he prays.  He does not change the location of his worship.  No, the law does deter him.  He practices his faith just the same because he has given to King Darius what belongs to him– his best work not worship.

I think that I feel the same way about race and its progeny.  I don’t care what circumstances I am thrown into; I am not afraid of race.  I will not join in its prejudices.  I will not surrender to its stereotypes.  I will not give in.

Everybody may be the same and want to remain socially colored human beings.  They may not see a problem with it, that it’s just the way of the world, that it comes with the job.  It may be the way that society treats me, the standard by which the law judges me, the lens through which strangers see me, the premise upon which the employer hires me.  Everything around me may say that race rules but if I stand alone, so be it.

I will not surrender to its social truths but to God because race is not the factor that determines His love for me. I will continue to pray to a race-less God, preach a race-less gospel and strive to live a race- less life.  Race can count on everyone to bow except me.

(No) More of the Same

welcome_to_the_post_racial_worldI am quite often confused as to some persons ability to say what the world will never be.  There is nothing special about these persons.  They share the same cities and states, same neighborhoods and communities, same elementary schools, colleges and universities, same degrees and jobs, same interests and hobbies.  They eat at the same restaurants, read the same books, listen to the same music and watch the same movies.  They have the same dreams, aspirations, needs and desires.

They use the same words that we have always used when they make these declarations.  This is not new or original.  And when they have exhausted this life, these same persons will die all the same, having never believed or attempted to do or to be or to say anything different.

Despite our attempts to make ourselves more than what we are, we are only and always human.  We are not superheroes, super helpers, mothers, fathers, leaders or the like.  None of us are saviors though we attempt to rescue so many from so much.  We all need saving and to be saved from day to day from ourselves and others.

We do not possess superhuman strength because we all get tired.  Frankly, we are world weary and subject to fear, weakness and doubt more than on occasion.  There is nothing superior in us or about us– whether good or bad.

I should also add that no one is subhuman.  Nothing that we do or say and no matter what other people do or say to us can produce such a designation.  To suggest otherwise is absurd.  You are either a human or an animal; the two are not interchangeable despite the claims of some pseudo- sciences.

While we are not superhuman or even super-intelligent, though we have designated some in our community as geniuses, none of us knows it all.  So, how then can we know what will be or what is even possible?

Perhaps, it is because we think that we know who we will be or who we have been and do not believe that we will ever change.  We don’t believe that it is possible because we have more faith in the past.  We are certain of our history and though unsure of the future, firmly hold to the assertion that it will be more of the same.  Oh, what could be accomplished in us and through us if we would believe in the new things that God is able to do and the new work that He wants to do in us (Second Corinthians 5.17).

This same God is eternal and His knowledge is not limited by time.  This God gives prophecies to His sons and daughters; young men see visions and old men dream (Joel 2.28; Acts 2.17).

So, His daughter believes that the world is post- racial because the world was created before race and apart from it.  What was in the beginning with God will be in the end and race was/ is not included.  When God said, “Let us,” race was not apart of the conversation or the creative process (Genesis 1.26).  I can believe in a post- racial world because I serve a supra- racial God.  It is not a matter of eluding the same old stereotypes or confronting the same old racist beliefs but “living, moving and being” as God has designed it and that has not changed (Acts 17.28).

Passing Down a Race-less Faith

I am a new mother of an eight month old charming boy named John and as protective as they come.  No one is exempt from my scrutiny.  I even subjected my husband to a job interview of sorts before leaving them home alone for the first time.  “How many diapers have you changed?  How many babies have you watched and where are these children now?  Are they still alive?”

Before giving birth to our son, I did not realize that babies are new.  Sure, I understood that they didn’t come with instructions but I had not fully considered the fact that they do not come socially pre- programmed either.  They are not born celebrities, motioning for body guards to remove the overly affectionate grandparents from their nursery.  They are not born capitalists, seeking the highest bidder for their first baby pictures.  They are not born racists, drawing color lines in their sandbox.

In fact, they are just the opposite.  They are humble, tender and affectionate.  They seek attention and love indiscriminately.  And these characteristics will remain if along with potty training, we teach them that it’s not only safe and acceptable but necessary to live this way.

Babies don’t come with identities scratched by physical insecurity or abuse, bruised egos or the baggage of American history.  No, we neatly pack these bags for them and place this burden on their shoulders, destined to carry it because we did.  But, why wouldn’t we consider raising a generation whose body is not bent from the weight of our anger, unforgiveness, pride and hatred?  Why do we continue to pass down a faith that is racialized and invite them to worship a God who is divided by our prejudices and stereotypes?

Our little John is original and beautiful.  I would be cheating if I took the life and experiences of another, even my own and copied them onto him.  Instead, I will study him, waiting patiently for the answer that is his true self to be revealed.  I will not tell him who others will say that he is or who I hope that he will become.  I want John to show me who he is.  And while I am his student, busy taking notes in his journal, I am also his first teacher.

He still doesn’t recognize his own name.  We will call him John until he identifies himself by it and answers.  This is the name that we have given him.  Lesson #1: Don’t call him black and he won’t answer to it.

John has not shown me that he is socially colored black but that he is teething.  Ouch!  And it is not a name that we or God have chosen for him.  God didn’t call him black but “very good.”[i]  Thus, he will not be identified by the social coloring of his skin but first by his Creator and then his cultural heritage, which is not synonymous with racial identity.

As a mother- minister, I want John to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and to love the God who loves him not based on his physical appearance but his heart.[ii]  I pray that John would come to know the God that is not socially colored black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige but the God who is Spirit.[iii]  I pray that I would show him that God is not a polygamous, married to both a Black and White Church and whose tongue is tied and mind has gone blank when it comes to matters of race and racism.  No, I want to pass down to him the race-less gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news that declares, “From now on then, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way.  So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation.”[iv]  Lesson #2: Christian believers, like babies, are new.

Now, I’m not sure if there is a Vacation Bible School theme that covers this topic.  But, it’s important that John be surrounded not only with good people who are trained to care for him but good words that mold and not mar him, that seek to bless and not curse him.  His faith will be formed but without race and it is my prayer that this is the future of Christian faith formation for the next generation of believers.


[i] Genesis 1.31

[ii] Second Samuel 16.7

[iii] John 4.24

[iv] Second Corinthians 5.17, NRSV