I grew up in a very diverse neighborhood in North Hollywood, CA. It seemed that, as far as I can remember, where ever you looked there were differing nationalities and languages on every street corner. I spent most of my time after school with a friend of the family who was from Mexico. Her children and I were best friends and 4 years ago it was great to see them at my wedding. I learned to speak spanish and came to love authentic Mexican dishes and never did it occur to me when I was growing up that the world outside my neighborhood was somewhat tilted in my favor. In saying that I mean, I never had to want for opportunities, I never saw my parents hated upon for being white, never saw them picked on because of their standing, BUT, I did see that in my friends who were not white. I never felt privileged over my friends but I knew there were differences that people saw in us and thus placed us in different categories. When I left CA with my parents and moved to MN we found ourselves in a small town whose citizens were probably 99.5% white.
I have always felt that I was made for the city and meant to mingle in with the nations. When I became a christian my call was to make disciples. I felt somewhat a call for the nations but never understood what that meant. As the United States continues to become more predominantly mixed and the “white” culture is fading away, we see that God is bringing the nations in to us. To me this is not a call to be lazy about global missions, for there are many people’s who never leave the rain forest or desert so they must be reached with the Gospel. However, the increase of immigrants gives us a great opportunity for evangelization but it also shows us our weakness when it comes to race and the cross of Christ.
I think John Piper says it best in saying that, “The issue of race is not a social issue, it’s a blood issue”. What I have come to understand him saying is what Revelation 5;9 points out to us.
“And they sang a new song, saying:
You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reignon the earth.”
The issue of race is, at the very heart, a gospel issue. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that there is no distinction between colors or tongues or geographical boundaries, but rather it speaks to the issue that God is reconciling all things to himself through the death and resurrection of his son Jesus Christ. God has made all races to be a kingdom for his glory, not many kingdoms of differing types but of one heavenly kingdom. Now I understand that merely speaking on the issue does not solve anything, yet it is the actions taken which will speak the loudest in this time of shifting minorities and majorities. We, as in all the people of God, must be willing to step across the boundaries of state lines, oceans, mountains, rain forests, to reach the nations with the unshakable truth that Christ came to die for ALL sinners. That’s where we all fall on common ground, we are all helpless to save ourselves in our sins. There is nothing the white person can do to be saved, there is nothing the asian person can do to be saved. It is by Christ’s finished work on the cross that we find ourselves built up into Him who is the head of all. The Bible also makes clear that this was not of ourselves so that no one may boast. For the gift of God is eternal life, it is not a working on our part that earns us salvation.
So whether you’re in a cross-cultural area like I am, or in a gated community in the hills, let us re-focus our eyes on the gospel. There is only one name under heaved by which we must be saved. Let me encourage you in saying that Christ came to save sinners. You, me, the neighbor with the loud dog, the neighbors who blast their rap music, we are all sinners in need of a savior. So let us use the cross as our reconciliation point and let us start conversations with those who are different from us on the basis of our need of Christ saving work.