This post was originally published over at http://www.CitizenPriest.com under the heading Unity in Christ (Weekly Refreshment).
“14For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity,” (Colossians 1:3-4; NASB).
Having been raised in Texas, and that largely in the country, by the time I reached middle school age I had imbibed an us vs. them mentality in regard to ethnicity. I had never really stopped to think about it, because it was not something I was forced to think about often, but I had come to think of race relations in an irreverent fashion. To me it was a game, a “my team vs. your team” kind of a thing. Then, something amazing happened.
In my seventh grade year, my mom and I joined a new church in a larger town, though we still lived in the country. At this church, I became friends with a young man of a minority ethnicity. We spent a lot of time together and had many common interests. We both loved music and would spend hours singing along with our favorite bands’ new albums. When we did church functions together, we were inseparable.
One day, as we were at one such function, he and I had gotten off alone and, as we were engaged in our usual immature banter, I made an off-color joke about choosing a group at random to be racist against. To me, this was a provocative joke. To my friend, it was no laughing matter. He quickly sat me down and, through tears, spent over an hour explaining to me the effects that racism had already had on his young life.
This discussion was eye-opening to me. I had never realized just how terrible a thing racism could be, and I vowed from then forward never to tolerate ethnic pride, partiality, or malice in myself or anyone else. I have not done so perfectly, but I have now gotten to the point where speaking about ethnic differences with any kind of irreverence turns my stomach.
In our world today, whether in rural America or urban Korea, a borough of New York City or a small village in South Africa—no matter where you go—you will find people who still imbibe the “us vs. them” mentality. This sinful mindset knows no language, gender, or ethnic boundaries, and it can still bubble up in each one of us. It can be seen in the way that we interact with one another or choose not to interact with one another. I can be seen in the way that we speak to one another or speak about one another in the absence of certain groups or people. It happens within Christianity, in spite of Christianity, and even in the name of Christianity (see the modern Social Justice movement to see how this type of ethnic partiality is being promoted as Christian).
Christ did not come to save people and leave them in their sin, but to save people from their sin. He did not come to save people and leave them in their “us vs. them” bubbles. He came to abolish the dividing wall of ethnic strife and make His church into one new man (Ephesians 2:15). Anyone who would resurrect dividing walls among God’s people and sow division in the name of Christianity, “have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?” (James 2:4; NASB).
As you gather with your church for your midweek service, delight in the fact that your union and communion with one another is in Christ who makes you one new man. Shun partiality, and joyfully celebrate your common love for God and love for the saints. Do everything in your power to delight in the unity that you share with people of every tongue, tribe, and nation by virtue of their having been made in God’s image and redeemed by the blood of Christ. Consider the unity you have in Christ, and be refreshed!