One Blood

December 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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I’ve been pondering something that I’ve seen happen a lot since I’ve been alive and it’s increased lately with the new president and administration. When America was founded, it was founded as a haven for Christians. Because of its Christian roots, as it grew, it became known as a melting pot. It was a place where anyone, regardless of color, race, creed, etc. could have the opportunity to excel and prosper. They could have the opportunity to build the life they dreamed of in freedom and safety.

Nowadays, it seems as if someone has turned the heat down on the melting pot. It has become more and more common and popular to tout the differences between us than the things that we share. Now, there are so many different types of Americans that the word American has lost all of its meaning. There are African-Americans, Asian Americans, Italian-Americans, Polish-Americans, and on and on. Why is the American part last? What happened to just being an American? It’s like it is a curse to be an American without clarifying that you are a special type of American! I don’t understand this at all.

I understand the history of my country well enough to know that there are tragedies that have happened to different groups of people. The one that many people talk about most often is the issue of slavery. For decades, many “African-Americans” have touted that they have been the target of racism and discrimination. In some cases, I don’t doubt that this has happened. Many people always seem to talk about how the founders had slaves and that they didn’t do anything about it. That’s not true. Some of the founders did have slaves I don’t deny that. What amazes me is that many people hiding behind the race card seem to forget that it was other Africans that were capturing the slaves and selling them for money! The founders saw the slavery issue as something that would end on its own and many of them took care of the slaves they had like family. But this is not the only time that a group of people has been targeted for their specific heritage or beliefs. Irish immigrants faced this as they came to the country too. So did Japanese-Americans and Native Americans. So did so many others.

One of the things that got me pondering was something that I remember being said when Michael Jackson died. I didn’t care for the fiasco that was his final days and didn’t watch much of it. One thing I did catch was what some of those remembering him said. If I recall correctly, Jamie Foxx stood up and talked about how he was “ours” (the “black” community’s) and how “we” shared him with the world. Hardly anything was said about this being a racist remark. Why? Jamie Foxx had nothing to do with Michael Jackson being “shared” with the world. It was Joe Jackson who pushed him. It seems like the only time something said is racist is when it is said by a person with light skin. Any other time it’s ok. I don’t understand this either.

Another thing I don’t understand is how so many people play the race card and tout racism while they spew racial comments that do nothing to fix the divide that has been created and widened by their own comments. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton come to mind. “Reverend” Sharpton has been called out many times for saying things that are racist (like anyone that disagrees with the President is a racist…) and yet he’s one of the people that are supposedly trying to make things better! Something isn’t right there…It seems to me, if you wanted to fix the problems between the “races” you would stop encouraging the kind of hatred and poor thinking that got us here to begin with.

Anytime the issue of “race” comes up, Martin Luther King Jr. is not far behind. The “I Have A Dream” speech is lifted up as the utopian goal of every “black” person, but so many don’t seem to want to do what is necessary to see that happen. I’ve heard numerous times about how “white” people should “stop the hate”. I don’t get it. I also hear a lot about how “we” (“black” people) have been oppressed and downtrodden for so long. How? It’s not even as bad as it was in the 1960’s! The schools are desegregated and many “people of color” have high standing positions in business, academia, and politics. The poor thinking that has been propagated by a small number of people has been the standard for too long. While I’m sorry for what happened to the “blacks” that came here in slave ships, and I’m not happy about the things that happened in the 60’s either, I wasn’t there. And chances are, neither were you. Instead of dwelling on what has come before, can we not try to make things different now?

This all comes some thoughts I had on the upcoming Christmas season. You’re probably wondering how I could be thinking of “race” at a time like this. You may also be wondering why I’ve been putting words like “black”, “white”, “race”, and “people of color” in quotation marks. It’s all because of scripture. You see, the first thing that we need to do if we are going to see racism stop is to look at things from a biblical perspective. While I love my heritage (Czech), it’s only a small part of who I am. I love learning about where my family came from and what they did, but it’s not the only thing that makes me who I am. I was born in America. I am an American. That is my heritage. That may not be yours. You may have ancestors who have come from other areas of the world like Africa, Chile, or Australia. That’s great. You should enjoy that and learn about the history of your family, but that’s not the only thing that makes you who you are either. Not only that, regardless of where your recent ancestors came from, if you were to trace your family as far back as it could go, you and I would end up at the same place.

The Bible says that in the beginning, God created two human beings – Adam and Eve. From these two people came all of the other people on the planet. As the number of people grew and they separated (by choice or by God), they changed. Certain groups gained darker skin and other characteristics while other groups had lighter skin and different characteristics. None of that changes the fact that they came from Adam and Eve. And it doesn’t change the fact that you and I did too. That’s why I’ve been putting those words in quotations. I don’t believe that things like “race” exist. The Bible says in Acts 17:

So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 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. 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; 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; 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, 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; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ 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. Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 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.” (Act 17:22-31)

According to this passage, God has made us all from one (man). We are all descendants of Adam. This means that there is no such thing as “race”. We are one race physically and two spiritually. If we all started here, and understand that we are one race of human beings, then a lot of this other stuff automatically disappears. There is no more need for many of the things that have divided us. The problem comes when we try to use the differences between us. Have you ever stopped to think about how shallow the differences between us are? Yes, you may have a different skin color than I do. You may talk in a different language too. But, when you go to the doctor, does he have a special book for your “race” that tells him how to operate on you? Does he have a different book for me? No! There is no difference between us at that level. We are the same under our skin. While the differences in culture may be hard to overcome, they are not something that we should be using to gain advantage over one another.

It is because we are one “race” that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ can apply to all mankind. If it weren’t this way, then only certain people would be able to be saved. That’s not what scripture says. Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world. Anyone who comes to Him in repentance for their sins and faith that He alone can save them will be born again. There is nothing about that person having to be a certain color, creed, or ethnicity. Why should it be any different between us?

This also applies to Christianity. If you are born again, if you’ve repented of your sins and put your faith in Christ alone to save you, then you are my brother; regardless of the color of your skin or the language you speak. If you haven’t, then you are still part of my “race” and therefore I still see you with value. I see you as in danger of going to hell if you don’t repent, but you are still valuable. I could expand this to denominations as well. I just don’t understand them. There are a number of Christian denominations that feel that they are the only ones that are going to heaven. Why? If I am born again and do not adhere to anything that is heretical, why wouldn’t I go to heaven? Now, there are other faiths that DO ascribe to heretical ideals (Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses) and still claim to be Christian. This cannot be. If you put works together with faith to get into heaven, it’s not biblical. Both Mormonism and Catholicism say that you have to do good works to get to heaven. Catholicism also holds to dogmas (things you must believe to be saved) that are not found in scripture. The most glaring of these are the Marian dogmas. These say that Mary was without sin and that she is the co-Redemptrix with Jesus. Nothing in scripture talks about this at all. It denies the complete sacrifice of Jesus alone on the cross for the sins of the world.

Other denominations have begun to drift away from sound teaching (ok…some have just decided to dive head first into heresy). The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA), and the United Methodist Church (UMC) have embraced homosexuality, even to the point of ordaining homosexual ministers. The UMC also has begun to promote universalism with their “Rethink” campaign. This is in direct opposition to the scriptures. This doesn’t mean that every member of the ELCA, PCUSA, or UMC agrees or holds to these things, but if they don’t, then I would look for somewhere else to go if it were my choice. We are not called to stay in a heretical church to fix it… The problem is that most denominations have come into existence over petty differences between two or three “leaders” or because of the cliques that have been allowed to form in the churches. They disagree on the color of the carpet or where the piano needs to be put or whether or not someone needs to say “In Jesus Name” when they pray or baptize. All of a sudden, there are thirty new denominations that have popped up. Is this really that hard? Jesus has told us what we should be and what we should be doing. Why can’t we just do that? That’s enough to keep us busy until He returns. And it’s what glorifies Him.

As the Christmas (yes, I said CHRISTMAS) season approaches, maybe you and I can look at each other as human beings created in the image of God and not as “black” or “white”. Maybe we can see each other the way that God sees us, as valuable enough to send His Son to die for us on the cross. If you’re a Christian, then maybe you and I can look at each other in faith and grace and stand together on the things that we agree on (one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God). As long as the others aren’t heretical, there shouldn’t be any problem! Maybe we can rejoice together this Christmas that our Savior came to show us the truth, to reveal to us the God that created us, and to die so that we might be reconciled to Him forever, even if you’re a different skin color than I am or speak a different language…

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