30 Aug 2017

“I Don’t See Color!” But I Do and So Does God … the Bible Celebrates Diversity in Unity

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: A Gathered People, Bible, Black History, Bobby's World, Church, Contemporary Ethics, Culture, Discipleship, Family, Heaven, Love, Race Relations, Salvation
God’s Image

In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all in all” (Colossians 3.11)

There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slaver or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3.28)

A Point of View I Sympathize With

Some of my closest friends are writing on their Facebook walls (and we all write on our FB wall) some variation of this slogan:

“I do not see color. I do not see black or brown or white but only humans.”

I completely and utterly sympathize with this sentiment. I used to say those words as well. In fact many years ago I would say things like, “I do not have a bigoted bone in my body.” I was naïve.  So I even understand why my beloved friends are saying it.

We say “I do not see color” because we want to disassociate ourselves as far as the East is from the West the stain of racism and bigotry.

And part of it IS true. We are ALL human. The motive of myself and my friends are in the right place. I share a revulsion to any kind of racism … even as I believe we all struggle with fallenness in human relationships.

But I Do Not Think it is True

But in the end the slogan is a defense mechanism on my part and perhaps seriously misunderstands biblical theology.

I repeat, the slogan is, in fact, not true. I think it actually fundamentally misunderstands the biblical language of neither Jew nor Gentile that we quoted above. Let me unpack how I understand this matter.

First of all, it is simply not the case that any of us do not see color.  We do see color. It is easy for me to say “I do not see color” because I do not live with color. A large segment of the human race within our American setting never escapes color even for a few minutes of the day. Even as I deny seeing color, color actually works in my favor everyday.

Second and this is a big point, seeing “color” is not a sin nor is it even wrong.  Every human color images God. The tone of our skin is created by God and intended by God to radiate glory throughout creation. I see the work of God’s hands and praise the Lord for its wonderous beauty.

It is only when human sin enters the mix and turns God’s glory into a means of division and oppression that recognizing color is wrong. It is what we do when we see color that decides the rightness and wrongness of seeing.  The slogan, as we properly intend it, says not “I do not see color” but I recognize the glorious image of God in the rainbow of diversity before me.

Does the diversity of skin tone, facial structures, and kinds of hair become symbols of segregation OR does this diversity become the occasion of praise and worship to the glory of the Creator God?

Diversity is the Grace of Creation & Redemption

Diversity is a divine act grace in Creation. Diversity is a divine act of grace in Redemption. How you may ask?

Regarding the color matter, let me use an analogy. There is not one of us that does not notice gender. For anyone to claim they do not notice if the other person before us is a male or female would not be far from a lie. Christians recognize that the person before us was created by God in that way. To deny that he or she is a “he” or a “she,” is to deny their creational identity. God made it.

It is good.

Femaleness is good.

Maleness is good.

When I meet another human, I recognize them as God has made them.

Difference is God’s glory.

The same is true with our “color.”

God created blackness.

God created brownness.

God created yellowness.

And God created a minority of the world with whiteness!

When the Bible says there is no longer male, nor female, Jew or Gentile, etc in Christ, we need to understand what is said. The Fallen world has used the good that God created (color & gender) as the basis for segregating ourselves from one another and for determining value. Difference became the basis of oppression in the fallen world. Sin attacked one color over another … just as it did with femaleness.

But Christ’s redemption does not now, and will not ever, erase the goodness of creation. The cross, the blood of Jesus, does not erase creational differences. Redemption sanctifies created differences.

Blackness does not imply inferiority. Blackness is declared to be Holy.

Femaleness does not imply inferiority. Femaleness is declared to be the Image of God.

Brownness, Yellowness, and Whiteness are not abolished in the New Creation. Creational Diversity is “holifeid” by the blood of Jesus which redeems from Sin all that he made. What the principalities and powers perverted and used to tear God’s diverse family apart has become, in the assembly of the Messiah, the rebuke of those enemies of God. The creational collage of humanity proclaims to THEM nothingless than God’s infinite wisdom (Eph 3.10).

Jesus was not an androgynous being when raised from the dead. He will eternally be the son of David, the son of Man. To be the son of David he will forever be a Jew too! Resurrection did not erase either Jesus’s gender nor did it erase the truth that he is the Son of Abraham, the Son of David, the Son of Mary. The MAN Jesus intercedes for us in heaven (1 Timothy 2.5).

Resurrection of the Messiah’s flesh seals the deal, so to speak, of the Incarnation!

God’s creational diversity proclaims the infinite wisdom of God. And it is within the church that God’s original creation is restored in all of its beauty … and diversity is essential to that beauty. Paul wrote in Ephesians 3.7-10

Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring the Gentiles [=racial designation] the news of the boundless riches of Messiah … for God who created all things; so that through the assembly the wisdom of God in its rich diversity might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in heavenly places.”

Sin uses diversity as a means of dividing and vandalizing God’s glorious creation. The blood of the Messiah overcomes the sin caused division and sanctifies the diversity.

God’s kingdom is not monochrome. In God’s kingdom, what the fallen world uses as a basis to divide and oppress, has become the ground for unity and celebration.

When we look into the presence of God thru the eyes of John the Prophet, we see the wonder of God’s gloriously diverse creation matched IN HEAVEN worshiping him.

“there was a great multitude that no one could count
from EVERY nation,
from ALL tribes
and peoples
and languages

standing before the throne
and before the Lamb
…” (Rev 7.9)

This praise includes all the diverse creatures God has made (3.13).

Genesis 10 records what has been called The Table of Nations.  It is critical to note that in the Story of God the listing of the diversity of God’s human creation is recognized as from God prior to the curse of the Tower of Babel.  There is no indication that the diversity of tribes and nations is bad or evil.  They all come from Noah’s sons who likely represent the diversity of humanity before the Flood as well.  All of those nations are the ones that the family of Abraham was called to be a blessing.

The Good, Beautiful and Diverse Creation that Sin has vandalized has been washed in the blood and made holy in the presence of God. Redemption makes HOLY the various races that God created. Paul makes precisely this point in 1 Corinthians 12.  Paul argues for diversity and in fact stresses diversity.  “Different kind of working” (12.6), different kinds of gifts (12.1-4), etc.  Then Paul argues for oneness in the midst of all that diversity because the diverse gifts are from the one Spirit.  Each different person with his or her different gift is one in the same body because of what the One God has done thru the One Jewish Messiah by the One Spirit of God.

The Human Body is the most amazing monument to Unity that is Diverse and Diversity that is One.  So Paul declares,

For just as the body is one, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the One Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and we are all made to drink of the one Spirit” (12.12-13)

Baptism into Christ preserves the unique diversity of God’s creation. To claim that suddenly Jews are not Jews and Gentiles are not Gentiles explicitly contradicts Paul’s belief that we are not all eyes, ears, or feet.  We are different. We are all the children of Abraham, and even citizens of Israel, but we retain our creational identity because it is redeemed by the Jewish King. That diversity is protected at the Table of Fellowship where rich, poor, white, black, male and female gather in the power of that One Spirit as a projection of the renewed creation within the old fallen world.

In the New Creation, Diversity does not divide us, Diversity unites us.

Diversity the Reason to Praise the Creator

The blood of Jewish Messiah destroyed the hostility between Jews and Gentiles that is races (Eph 2.14). But if we read Paul, he is pretty adamant that Gentiles do not literally become Jews. Instead Gentiles now come to worship the God of Israel as Gentiles and join Israelites in his praise.

When I meet people, I do not deny they are who they are. They are male or female. They are white or black. I recognize that these things are in fact part of their created humanness. It is part of their identity.

I confess that my Father, the Creator God, loves this diversity. So gender is not abolished it is made holy. The hue of our skin is also not washed off but made holy and is the basis of unity and celebration.

I do not deny God’s work. I glorify God for it.

This is why I do not say I do not see color or see race. I do!

And I fall on my knees to worship God the Creator and Redeemer for it.

One Response to ““I Don’t See Color!” But I Do and So Does God … the Bible Celebrates Diversity in Unity”

  1. Michael Lee Smith Says:

    Bobby,
    I hope this comment section is still open and you will see it since the article is from 2017. You are doing a great work and I want to encourage you in your ministry of speaking your take rather than uttering/repeating the party line. One comment in the article really stuck with me, possibly because it has been my own soap box without the words you used. You mentioned there is no problem with race etc. until human sin enters the mix. My soap box is that I believe Satan is using racial and gender statistics to keep human sin running rampant. I am disgusted every time I fill a form requiring this designation because I know the information is going to form some aspect of a statistic pitting each of us against each other. As King, I would make these forms collecting this information a crime. Sadly, a lie usually follows telling us the information does not have any negative consequence. Soldier on brother!

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