People of color. White people.
How easy it is to draw up opposites. The minute you read these pairs of words, you unconsciously found your place. We can’t help ourselves. Culture, practice, family affiliation, and society all work together to help us understand who we are…and who we aren’t.
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, the issue is circumcision verses uncircumcision. Either you were or you weren’t. Females were simply lumped in with their male family members. If you were circumcised, you were a Jew. If you weren’t, you were a gentile.
One group gets in, one group stays out. But then Jesus came, and all the ideas about opposites were obliterated:
Ephesians 2 (The Message)
16-18 Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father.
This teaching was revolutionary. The centuries-long practice of maintaining strict distances between opposing groups was suddenly gone, and a new paradigm began to take hold. No one is a stranger or an outsider in Jesus’ world. Everyone belongs here, and this place was designed and built by God himself:
19-22 That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together.
With Christ as our cornerstone, we will hold all of these parts together in a holy temple.
We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.
We see it taking shape day after day….or do we?
White people. People of color.
We still have a long way to go, haven’t we?