Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus
My family will often roll their eyes when the topic of “favorite movie” comes up, because much to their chagrin, even as thousands of new movies are released, nothing tops the 1981 movie, Chariots of Fire. Our pastor at the time knew my buddy and I were avid runners and he surprisingly took us to see this movie – it was incredibly impactful. Based on a true story, it focused on Eric Liddell, a committed Christian whose conscience would not allow him to run a 1924 Olympic event on a Sunday. Beyond the movie though, I’ve read about the actual life of Liddell, a man who died in a Chinese concentration camp where he cared for the children. He lived out the love of Christ as we all should. Here is a story from a fan.
“I remember an incident concerning him. When I lived in Edinburgh I went to Craiglockhart to see him running in the 100 yards sprint at the University Sports, which, incidentally, he won, beating his own record at the time. Prior to his event a coloured student was wandering about, awaiting his event. Not a single person was speaking to him. He seemed so much alone, my heart went out to him, so much so that I felt like going to talk to him myself. To my great joy, Eric went up to him, put his arm in his, and engaged him in a friendly conversation until his event was due. I thought it such a beautiful Christian action, and it has lived in my memory ever since. How like the man, wasn’t it?”[i]
I would hate to try to over-simplify racial tensions, and thereby trivialize centuries of history, and deep, deep pain that people have experienced. To be very honest, I don’t get it and it frustrates me to no end. In such situations I believe it is critical to turn to the Word of God. A word of encouragement for me (or perhaps discouragement) comes from King Solomon: “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
God created one race – the human race. There are many ethnicities, but one race. In the Old Testament God divided people into two “racial groups”, Jews and Gentiles. God’s intent was that the Jews were to be a kingdom of priests who would minister to the Gentiles, but instead they became proud and they despised the Gentiles. “Jesus Christ put an end to this, destroying the dividing wall of hostility (Ephesians 2:14). All forms of racism, prejudice, and discrimination are affronts to the work of Christ on the cross.”[ii]
One of my favorite stories is Jesus with the Samaritan woman (John 4). In Jesus’ day, a Samaritan was defiled, and a Jew couldn’t even associate with them. Furthermore, it was culturally unacceptable for a man to speak with a woman in private. Jesus could care less about “man’s rules”. While his disciples were off to get supplies, he asks her for water, and she is blown away (vs 7-9). He uses the opportunity to have an intimate conversation with her and shared eternal hope for her. One of my favorite parts of this story comes when the disciples return. “Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” (vs 27). The disciples didn’t understand it yet, but one day they would understand and embrace God’s impartial love of people. “For God so loved the world, that he sent his only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). We are likewise called to love all people, and likewise called to embrace those who are suffering. Are you prepared to embrace your brother or sister, no matter the color of their skin? Jesus did. “For [we] are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28b).