Race and Faith
Racism is, of course, nothing new. It seems that we human beings have a natural tendency to look for things that distinguish and separate us from one another.
The problem comes not in understanding legitimate differences that make for the wonder and variety of God’s creation, but when those differences lead us to believe that one is better, more worthy, more important than another. Sometimes we have even believed that God made us different to highlight the betterness of one over another. This is evil, and denies God work in creation and our common redemption in Jesus.
In our Sunday lessons, we are working through a good chunk of Paul’s letter to the church at Rome. A critical theme of that letter is that both Jews and Greeks are sinners in need of redemption in Jesus. (Click here to read Romans 3, the center of Paul’s argument on this issue.) Neither is superior. Neither is in a better position. Jews are not better for being children of the Covenant and Gentiles are no better for not carrying the baggage of the Mosiac law. We are all in the same position before God, we are all equally loved by God, and Jesus’ death accomplishes the same redemption for each.
This is a central truth to keep in mind as we walk this very difficult season in our national life. Whatever one may think of Confederate statues, any notion of white supremacy or white nationalism (and the related ideas that under-gird neo-nazism or other racist ideologies) is antithetical to Christian faith and always has been, even if the church has failed to live that out at some times and places.
If we are honest, I think we would all have to admit that there is a bit of racism in all of us. It may not always show, but in my experience, no one is immune and that includes those of races that are in the minority here in the US. I see it in myself, for example, when I hear on the news a story of some crime and a piece of me assumes that the person is African-American before I even see the suspect’s picture. It’s ugly and I don’t want it, but it is there.
Let’s pray that God would lead us to a place of true justice, and that He would begin in each one of us!
Fr. Eric Turner
Collect for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of his redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.