I have been thinking quite a bit about diversity and the Church (universal, the body of Christ) lately. NT Wright commented recently that a modern secularist might believe that the church is catching up to the issue of racism following a largely secular cry for attention, but the truth is different from what it appears.
When asked about the church’s response to issues of race, Wright commented that God has always had a plan for the diversity of His creation. The comment got me thinking in what ways it might be true.
In fact, if we “read ahead” in the story, we see John’s great vision of “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” standing before God. (Rev. 7:9)
If this is the end game, where do we find evidence of the plan of God to gather that multitude from every nation, from all the tribes and peoples and languages to Himself?
Jesus doesn’t tackle the issue of racism or diversity directly, but He lived in a complicated time. He was Jewish, living in a tight knit Jewish community, which was governed and ruled by foreigners, the Romans. The Jews had a history of living alongside foreigners and were at various times throughout that history governed by them against their will.
Many of the foreigners were actually very closely related, like the Samaritans, who were of Jewish descent, and the Canaanites before them.
The Jews believed there were only two types of people: Jews and everyone else (Gentiles). They seemed to have forgotten that the very first words God spoke to Abraham, when He chose Abraham and his progeny, was that God chose them to be a blessing to all the nations. (Genesis 12:1-3) God didn’t choose them to bless only them, but to bless all nations through them.
Jesus was that blessing. Jesus is traced back to Abraham. He is from the line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is the root of Jesse’s seed, father of David. Jesus is the Promised One. Jesus claimed to be God in the flesh, so, how Jesus viewed others is the key to understanding what the Bible says about racism and diversity.
This is the third part in a series on whether the Bible is sexist and racist. We introduced the question in Part 1 and explored whether the Bible is sexist in Part 2 by going back to the beginning, back to the creation story, where God introduces us to the crown of His Creation, Adam and Eve. We will explore what the Bible reveals to us about God’s view of racism in this Part 3 of the series before turning to what Jesus had to say about both sexism in Part 4 and racism in Part 5.
As we try to understand what the Bible has to say about racism, we go back to Adam and Eve. They are depicted in the Bible as representative of the human race. Genesis, therefore, has application not only to gender relations but to race relations as well. In Genesis we will look at clues for what God intended when He created the world and the people in it, and then we will go to Revelations to glimpse of how things will ultimately be when the redemption of the world is complete and God’s purpose is fulfilled.
This sweep, from Genesis to Revelation, from beginning to end, will show us an overarching view of race as God sees it.