Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.Psalm 133:1
My perspective on race is unique. As a white male, I grew up in a low/middle class neighborhood. My childhood home from age 2-20 was a 1200 sq/ft 3bdrm/1 bath home in a predominantly black community. We were on food stamps from time to time, even though both my parents tried to hold down jobs. My mother would go stand in line at the Ebenezer Baptist Church to get free blocks of cheese. I either got free or reduced lunch at the public school. That’s just how life was, but that’s how it was for many in my community and race wasn’t a determining factor.
By the time I graduated from high school, which was 95% black, my friends and even those who didn’t know me from the neighborhood didn’t look at me as being “privileged”. For all of us, regardless of color of skin, know that when you grow up together in the same environment, you’re all in it together. I know, I lived it, and the people who lived it with me told me so. It was the norm back in those days to ask a person “where you stay at?” and when you told them, the response inevitably was, “Oh you one of us.” It was not uncommon back then, for my black friends to call me the “Ndearing word” because we had a bond. That bond was created because of where I was raised. It grew every time the kids from the neighborhood came over to play basketball in my driveway on a wooden backboard, or football in the street, or riding bikes in a nearby field, and every time after being drenched in sweat we all drank from the same water hose to cool down. It’s a bond that is still made easily today when I encounter black men and we begin to talk and we ask “where you graduate from?” When I tell them the high school, that’s it, they know. And then it ‘s almost like we grew up together.
Years later, many experiences of varying degrees, God had been working in me to continue to knock off those rough edges that don’t resemble Jesus Christ. One Sunday led to three summers of me traveling to Africa to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When I arrived, I didn’t see people who were defined by their black skin, I just saw people. Sure, their context was different than mine. Their culture was different than mine. Their language was different than mine. That scenario represents a lot of people who live within the USA. We may all be Americans, but sometimes people feel like their neighbor is from a totally different context than they are. And because of that, they think, “What do we have in common?” and they never reach out, they never invite, they never really know one another.
I began to make friends with my African brothers. They weren’t my brothers like the kids I grew up with, no, there was a deeper bond between us. We didn’t relate to one another as strangers even though we lived 22 hours apart from each other…by plane. We could laugh together, learn one another’s language together, eat together, embrace each other, and cry every time I departed to return home. The Bible says, “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Providence 18:24b) and that’s what strangers who were separated by continents experienced; not because they lived in the same neighborhood, played together, grew up together, or attended the same high school. No, there was a bond much greater, the bond created because of the Spirit of God living in us.
I still experience that bond today. Not because I’m in Africa, but here at home every time a man, regardless of skin color comes into my home. Well you may be asking, “Yeah, but how often?” My response, “Every week”. The church we attend meets in my home every week. It’s unlike traditional churches where people typically come and go without relationships being formed. We come together to worship God, and then we share our lives with each other. We do this over meals every week at my dining room table. We sit on the back porch and laugh together. We spend time praying for one another. We are family.
In light of the chaos all throughout our nation right now, the idea of being a member of the same family as someone of a different race sounds absurd, especially in the ears of those who truly don’t desire unity with all people. Their minds are set on the things of this world. Listen carefully to their demands which serve as offerings to the god of their belly to satisfy the lustful desires of their heart. They do not desire unity.
Unity between people, regardless of race, color, or creed can only be found in Jesus Christ, who gave His body & blood so that people of all shades across the entire globe might be reconciled to God. The indwelling sinful nature of every person has alienated them from God. That sinful nature must be made new through the transforming work of God’s Spirit. There will never be unity apart from Christ.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, jso it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many” (1 Cor 12:12-14).
Those members, according to Paul are diverse and are many, but yet they are part of 1 body. There is unity in the body of Christ. They are aliens of this world, adopted by God, and whose residence is in heaven. Regardless of race, they all look up to heaven and call upon God their Father. They have a strong appetite for heaven because they recognize that this world with all its woes and cares is not worth caring for in comparison to the glory their eyes will one day behold.
People from every background are brought near to God by the blood of Jesus. The blood of Jesus Christ paid the debt of sin for those who are in Him. His sacrifice brought reconciliation between a Holy, Righteous, & Good God and sinners of every race. They have been adopted as sons & daughters because of the atonement of Jesus Christ, and in turn they are brothers & sisters; not on the basis of race, but rather because they were bought with the perfect, sinless blood of Jesus. Ephesians 2:14-16 reads, “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.”
Our identity is no longer defined by our race or anything else. Our identity as Christians is solely defined by what Christ has done. We are rooted in Him. There is nothing greater than the Insurmountable All Wonderful Unity that is found in Christ alone.