Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Christian Identity and Racial Identity

A friend shared with me how their InterVarsity campus group had opened up their large group meeting by announcing that "IV is a multicultural, multiethnic campus christian group. Just look around you at all the different faces."

This came in the context of a discussion on Christian identity. I responded with the way I might have opened a campus group -- or introduction to a sermon on Christian identity and race -- which is reproduced below.

"Yeah sigh. If I had wanted to  draw attention to differences--first, it wouldn't be in the introduction because as I said, it's not fundamental to who we are, the Gospel is, and if I led a Bible study or church or small group or campus group, I would lead with the naked Gospel from the get-go-- I would say something along the lines of "He has made of one blood all nations, and appointed the boundaries of their dwellings," referencing Paul at the Areopagus, and probably quote the whole passage, 
22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ 29 Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. 30 Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”Acts 17:22-31
and say "God loves to tell a good story. And one of the things that continually amazes me is the ways in which He has accomplished to cause the same exact message to be faithfully transmitted to and believed by so many different--and unlikely--people. Scripture says that there is neither slave nor free/jew/greek/etc for all are one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). More specifically, all who are in Christ Jesus are one. Apart from God, we might first identify as our gender, our social status, our "race", etc. But true followers of Christ are first and foremost Christians, and all else is secondary. We are not Christian women, or Asian Christians, we are Christians. Our race or sex does not influence our view of Christianity or the Bible, it is our Christianity and the Bible that influences how we look at our race or our sex. Not the other way around, and anybody that has this confused has not internalized the Romans passage I just quoted. Christ demands that you lay down everything else in order to have Him. Did He mean to make an exception for our political or social identities? If you see yourself as something else before you see yourself as a Christian, then you see something else as more important and more valuable than Christ. This is a very dangerous place to be, because anything that gets between us and God is an idol. In light of the tendency of people to identify as a race, it is truly fascinating when God causes people to set that aside and unite as Christians." "

~ W

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