Should Ethnicity Not Cross Our Minds When We Meet Believers?

Should Ethnicity Not Cross Our Minds When We Meet Believers? May 13, 2024

I’ve heard it said, “Ethnicity and background should never even cross our minds when we meet another believer. Unfortunately, we’re being told that the first thing we need to notice about someone in a local church is their skin color.”

I disagree. First of all, it obviously does and will cross our mind, and it’s silly to think we can or should close our eyes to differences.

Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). What he’s saying is that we are all equal and should be in unity with each other. He doesn’t mean racial identity and gender and slavery do not exist. The same Paul speaks openly of Jewish and Gentile believers (Romans 2:10; 9:3-4) and male and female believers (Ephesians 5:22, 25).

The notion of being “colorblind” doesn’t lend itself to oneness but to blindness. It suggests that if we recognize or admit differences, we would be forced to say some are better than others. No, we should recognize the differences and celebrate that God’s image-bearers come in all shapes and sizes and colors, and we are the beneficiaries of His providence in creating us this way. (See Trillia Newbell’s excellent article 4 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be Colorblind.)

Saying someone’s skin color shouldn’t even cross our minds is like saying I shouldn’t notice whether I’m talking to a man or a woman, or that it’s somehow wrong to notice a man is 6’8” or 4’8”. What is wrong is when I judge or stereotype or think less of him, or more of him, because of a physical attribute. I can certainly thank God for creating diversity.

What about noticing someone is disabled, and looking for a way to assist them if needed? What about noticing someone is young or old, and they too may need my help? If I see someone of a different skin color at a store, staring at American money the same way I stared at Chinese money when I was in China, I should offer help. But I won’t if I fail to notice them.

To say that we are all image-bearers is NOT to deny we have differences. It is to say we who are different are all human, and we who are believers are, as Paul puts it, one in Christ. Not ceasing to be male or female, or ceasing to be whatever race we were created as, but fully united regardless of our differences.

The glory of God is greater because people of different tribes, nations, and languages of different times and places will be forever united in Jesus.

Photo: Unsplash

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