“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’ ” (Revelation 7:9,10).
“I believe God created one race—the human race. The love of Christ calls us to be truly color blind.” This statement is often spoken in love and intended to be a Christian reaction to the sinful racism that continues to inflict wounds and put up barriers to the gospel. But God’s words and examples call us to something higher than color blindness.
God sees our differences and uses them
When Christians call for color blindness, they often cite 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.” Yet God’s point is not that Christ erases those differences. Throughout the New Testament, God explicitly applies his Word in different ways to Jews and Gentiles (Galatians chapters 3 to 5), slaves and masters (Colossians chapters 3 and 4), and males and females (Ephesians chapter 5 and 1 Timothy chapter 2). The gospel doesn’t make us blind to those differences; it means that none of our differences make anyone more or less valuable in the sight of God.
Our race is part of the way God created us. Seeing that helps us find unique opportunities to apply God’s Word.
The early church confronted cultural prejudices in its own charity system (Acts chapter 6). It shaped the church’s ministry as Paul considered the implications of bringing along Timothy, a son of a Jewish mother and Greek father (Acts chapter 16). It even helped pastors understand the particular sins that plagued the Cretans (Titus 1:12,13).
The church saw color because Christ did. Our race is part of the way God created us. Seeing that helps us find unique opportunities to apply God’s Word. Christ saw the pains and challenges that came with a Samaritan woman’s social and cultural background; he applied the gospel to those hurts and reached a sinner in need with the only message that cures (John chapter 4). Our missionaries working among the Ukrainians, the Sudanese, and the Chinese will tell you that seeing each cultural and ethnic difference helps when applying God’s Word to them. Our missionaries working among Black and Hispanic Americans in our nation will tell you the same. Don’t be blind to the differences that often accompany race. Learn about them and apply God’s Word to them.
The gospel unites us all in Christ
After the apostle John labored with the gospel for decades and saw his fellow apostles martyred for their faith, Jesus gave him a vision of heaven. What a joy it must have been for John to see who was there! Even in the halls of heaven, he recognized them as coming from “every nation, tribe, people and language.” They weren’t rejoicing in heaven because their differences were gone. They were united because of Christ Jesus, the Lamb who sat on the throne and who had shed his perfect blood for all who were there.
The church wasn’t blind to those differences on earth either. It saw peoples’ unique experiences and hurts and considered how it might best minister to them. God blessed that work, and John had the privilege of seeing the results in heaven. May God help his church continue to see color and apply his Word to all people, until one day soon he unites us around his throne.
Author: Joel Seifert
Volume 107, Number 10
Issue: October 2020
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- Fathers of encouragement - 2021/05/22
- God makes it grow - 2021/04/25