“And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” – Revelation 5: 9-10.
How often have you heard someone end a sentence with ”… but I know different” or “they are different from” or “different than.” Of course there are differences in our backgrounds, experiences, cultures, and the color of our skin. But are we all that different?
Our parts are interchangeable. If you need a blood transfusion in another part of the world, chances are someone has your blood type. We all laugh. We may not laugh at the same things and a smile may be harder to coax from one individual than it is from another, but there are things that make us happy. We all cry. We all feel pain whether physical, psychological or emotional. When someone close to us dies we feel a sense of loss. We all want to feel important and accomplished. Not necessarily to be Nobel Laureates, but to feel like we matter. We all want something better for our kids regardless of our color, religion, culture, or geographic location.
We all find it easier to love those like us than for those we perceive as “different”. So the sooner we begin to see how much we are alike, the better for us all. How can we do this? The risen Jesus commands his followers to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28.19-21). This is a mandate for Christians to carry the gospel banner into all nations and to all people groups. The Bible does not say we can dismiss or ignore people because of our prejudices and biases or the color of their skin.
It is pretty clear that Jesus died for all people. What would it look like if Christians refused to love, serve and preach to people who did not look, sound, or live just like them? Could we be unintentionally opposing our mission of helping the whole world find and follow Jesus because of prejudices or because or racial bias? These are hard but necessary questions.
Why do we judge by the exterior? Why are we prejudiced? Why do we have biases? Being a Christian is not about exclusion. Being a Christian is not about separation or discrimination. As Christians, we are called to have compassion for people in situations that we may not understand. How can you love people if you can’t look beyond the outside and accept them right where they are at? What every Christian can pour into the life of others is the powerful passion of love regardless of how different they may be.
- Do you find it difficult and/or scary to enter into the conversation about diversity and racial issues? Why or why not?
- What kind of conversations do you think that Christians need to have that will lead to racial reconciliation and encouragement?
- How does being “in Christ” change the discussion of race? How might thinking of others as made in the image of God change your views of people who are different?
- Where do we go from here? How do you begin to implement the needed changes in order to love those who are different?