There seems to be a lot of tension in my country these days. A lot of division. (At least this is what the media portrays.)
Between people of different skin tones. People from different cultures. People of different genders.
Oftentimes I can’t make out what’s being said amidst all the clamor and voices filled with bitterness and pain, but it seems to come down to this:
The “black person” against the “white person” and the woman against the man. The white person against the black person and the man against the woman.
Blame. Accuse. Point fingers. Demean. Insult. Shame. Yell. Scream.
“Black people are …” “White people can’t …” “Men don’t … ” “Women always …”
Refuse to listen. Refuse to empathize. Refuse to forgive. Refuse to seek change. Refuse to unify. They make everyone simply a label and refuse to see them as people made in the image of God.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
I can’t say I’m well-versed in all the history, politics, and agendas behind these conflicts.
I do know that there have been periods of time in history where men have been very oppressive toward women – treating them like possessions rather than people. A hideous crime. I know that still, in other parts of the world, women are horrifically oppressed. And this is grievous to my heart.
I know that slavery is a real thing and millions of people were enslaved over the course of history – people still are today! I know that in the history of this country, people originating from Africa were held as slaves. And it was an inhumane, heinous, ungodly sin.
Thank the Lord for the many soldiers and activists of old who fought for freedom and equal rights.
We have come a long way since then. But, sadly, there is still prejudice and hate from individuals toward people of a different skin tone, sex, or culture.
But, when we start twisting stories, pointing fingers, and playing the blame-game, it only causes more hate & division. It’s no way to help fix the problems. We need to be unified. As a country. As a people. And, especially as a Church.
12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!
We are all part of the human race! Although cultures can differ, our skin colors do not make us a different race or a different kind of people.
We all hurt. We all suffer. We all cry. We all need each other. And most of all, we all need Christ Jesus.
My skin color doesn’t dictate who I am. How I feel. What I think. What I do. Culture, upbringing, and family can factor into all of this. But still, each person has their own free will and ability to think for themselves.
So we’re different …
I may not know some of their lingo. Maybe I tend to be stoic and reserved whereas they’re expressive and emotional. Maybe I don’t know how to do something normal in their culture, because I’ve lived differently – I have no experience. And they’ve perhaps never had homemade pannukakku, nissu, or pasty. 😉 Differences are something to be celebrated, not feel insecure over, or lord over one another.
Well, maybe most of my ancestors come from Finland, and most of theirs come from India. Or Uganda. Or Ireland. Or Iran. Or Russia. Or Japan. Or Australia. …so we haven’t experienced some of each other’s traditions, cultures, history, or personality traits.
But we are all people, in the end. People with beating hearts, pumping red blood. People with aching souls, silently crying out for their Creator. People needing to be loved and longing for purpose.
People created in the image of the Creator. Fearfully and wonderfully.
13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.
So me. Partly Finnish, and partly Irish, English, Swedish, Asian, French, African, etc., etc., etc. (or something to that extent). Me, with my white skin and blonde hair, am created fearfully and wonderfully in the image of the Almighty God.
And you, with your black skin and curly black hair, are created fearfully and wonderfully in the image of the Almighty God.
And you, with your pale skin and flaming red hair, are created fearfully and wonderfully in the image of the Almighty God.
And you, with your brown skin and brown hair, are created fearfully and wonderfully in the image of the Almighty God.
And you, with your light skin and silky black hair, are created fearfully and wonderfully in the image of the Almighty God.
And every variation. If you are human, you are created in the image of the triune God. And I believe it pleased God greatly to create such a beautiful array of different faces, colors, attributes, and forms.
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
No human should ever elevate or think of themselves as better than another.
To do so is disturbingly arrogant and a grave sin against the God of the universe.
Rather, we should elevate God, and make much of His name. Together. Every tongue, every tribe, and every nation. Loving each other in our love of Him.
“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
10 And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.”
9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
When we meet a person who professes to be a Christian, we should joyfully see them as family in Christ – whether they share the same skin color, culture, or gender, or not. Because we are family. Closer than our own flesh-and-blood family. And this is sometimes hard for us to realize. But one day, we are going to spend eternity together when our Lord, Jesus Christ, returns for His Bride.
We are His Bride. Together. How can there be division, tension, strife, and even hate within His one Bride?
1 Corinthians 1:10
10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
We need to stop.
This division is such a grievous thing, especially within the Church. Whether it comes from “racial” differences, gender differences, culture differences, or denominational differences, it is wrong to have division within the Body. We are called to unity.
We need to hate prejudice, not people. We are all sinners in need of grace. We need to hate division, not ethnicity. We need to blame sin, not people groups. And take steps to eradicate the sin while striving for unity. For love.
Let’s insert ourselves and our groups and our people and our agendas into this verse:
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
There is neither “white people” nor “black people”, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
There is neither Finnish nor Chinese, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
There is neither rich nor poor, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
There is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
This means that our identity as “Christ-followers” trumps every other identity we have by a long shot.
Woman. Finnish. American. Conservative. Writer. Blogger. Sister. Daughter. My identity in Christ is so soul-deep and all-consuming that when compared to these other identities I take, the latter simply fade into the background under its magnitude.
Now. This doesn’t mean that we sit back and ignore real and disturbing issues. God is a God of justice. Of unity. Or responsibility. Of peace. Of love.
If we see prejudice toward a people group, we stand with those people. We preach equality in God. We love. We welcome. We unify. We vehemently reject the idea that one so-called “race” is better than another. (If you’ve never studied into the idea of there being only one race, I would highly recommend checking out some of Ken Ham‘s books and resources.)
2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
If there is sexual abuse or crime, we fight tirelessly against it. We do all within our power to move the victim out of harm’s way. To guard others against experiencing this. We strive to educate, equip, and protect in order to diminish the number of women (or men) who experience such a horrible thing.
As Christians, we should fight against hate, prejudice, pride, abuse, lies, and discrimination. It doesn’t matter who the victim is: black or white. Male or female.
We should stand up for the things that Christ stood up for.
Never in the Bible do I see God call for any kind of division and separation between Christ-followers of different cultures or ethnicity. Attend whichever church you want to – so long as it’s Christ-glorifying and tight-knit in love. Marry whoever you want to – only in the Lord. Be friends with whoever you want to – as long as they’re spurring you on toward Christ. Etc.
24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another,
2 Corinthians 6:14-16
14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.
1 Corinthians 15:33-34
33 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” 34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.
Nowhere in the Bible do I feel God endorse or encourage me to feel ashamed of my skin color, or demean & shame other people because of theirs. Rather we should praise the Lord for who He made us to be (Psalm 139), and rejoice in our differences. It is glorious.
Never in the Bible do I find grounds to shame, demean, or try to elevate myself over men because of past oppression, individual acts of sexual sin toward women, or anything else. Rather I should honor, respect, and encourage the men in my life, and even seek out the loving leadership and protective covering of a godly man. (In father or husband.)
1 Corinthians 11:3
3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
I do see that I am to love my neighbor, whether they be in America, Egypt, Finland, China, Brazil, England, Kenya, or anywhere else.
I am to spread the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The only news that can truly set you free and make you whole.
I am to edify the Church and make disciples in Christ.
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you;
I have not experienced all the same experiences as you, dear reader. I can’t understand some of the things you have gone through. But I can pray for you. For healing, and hope, and unity. And hopefully come alongside you as a sister as we seek our Creator and Lord together.
10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
We need to help each other. Fight for unity. Fight for the faith. Spread the gospel. Fight for the traditional family – for stable, healthy home lives. Fight for emotional health. Fight for education. Fight for protection. Fight for peace.
I don’t believe in different “races” and division. I don’t believe in using divisive rhetoric and hateful speech.
I believe in truth. Peace. Unity. Love.
Especially within the circle of believers.
So let’s start looking at people through Christ’s eyes.
20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.