The issue regarding racial and/or cultural divide is one which we as Church have not quite gotten our heads around. And even when we pretend that we have dealt with the issue sufficiently, our lives tend to show otherwise.
Our race/culture is a gift from God and it is important to us. After all we did not choose it and could do nothing to deserve the one or the other.
But at what point does it become a divide or prejudice that hinders the plan of God?
When you are born into this world you are born by water and blood, meaning flesh. But when you are born from above, you become born of the Spirit of God (John 3:3-9). And although your earthly culture does not disappear, your earthly culture has to bow to the heavenly culture of which you are now ‘born again’.
Now when you meet with someone of a different earthly culture, but who has been born of the same Spirit, you are one with that person on a level far superior to your earthly prejudices and preferences. It now becomes impossible to see yourself superior to or inferior to that person of another culture because you are of the the same eternal Spiritual culture. Can the Spirit of Christ be inferior or superior to the same Spirit of Christ? No. By no means is that possible.
And even if such a person is not born of the same Spirit, your new heavenly culture demands the love for other to the same measure that you love yourself, because you are made of the same blood. (Act 17:26)
For many years I have stood astounded by the levels of racism and prejudice in the Church and specifically certain Pentecostal Churches. I mention Pentecostal Churches for two reasons: Firstly, I was raised in the Pentecostal Church in South Africa. And secondly, and here I am at a lost for words, these are the Churches that claim the in-dwelling of the Spirit at a higher level than any other. Yet the recognition of that Spirit in people of another culture/race goes amiss.
After many years of pondering the issue and struggling to rid myself of my own prejudices I grew up in, I think I might have an Idea why this is so. I believe it is because of a misunderstanding of the Nature of God, that we have justified our actions to ourselves.
Many Christians understand God to be a racist. i.e. He favours one race above the other. And so it is easy to justify other forms of that same prejudice in ourselves, as we apply it to ourselves. This understanding is a fatal misunderstanding of the Old & New Testament and the New Creation Reality in Christ. A gross misunderstanding of the nature of God the Father.
The Old Testament was not a prejudice against other nations, but only a womb or method though which Christ would come to make a way for all nations. It was scaffolding for the real eternal building of Christ and the Church. Once that way has come, the scaffolding is removed, and there is no other Way.
In the New Testament Paul writes in Rom 10:12 – “ There is no difference between Jew and Greek…” and again in Gal 3:28 – “ There is neither Jew nor Greek…” and again in Col 3:11 – “ Where there is neither Greek nor Jew…”.
These two cultures were of coarse the two main cultures Paul minister to. I think that if Paul was writing today he would have written: “ Neither white nor black”, or “Neither Maori nor British”, or “Neither Arab nor Jew”.
Somehow we still find Christians rejoicing when Arabs are killed and mourning when Jews are killed. As if the Arab life is somehow worth less that the Jewish life. (The same happened in my own country between ‘whites’ and ‘blacks’ for many years and much of the Church was ok with it.) But I can understand that many with this mindset also see themselves superior to the cultures & races that surround them. This is not the mind of Christ, and it is not the heart and desire of God.
We choose Christ, and outside of Christ, we are for the wellbeing of every nation, tribe and tongue.
One Lord, one Spirit, one heavenly Family.
Frans (Gentile of the French linage)