“I trust Jesus to handle the church. I’m not sure I trust the church to handle Jesus.” The author is unknown but the sentiment is shared by many.
Christians have to get Jesus’ story straight if we are to ever get on the same page. We share in common a sacred text, but we are not seeing the same thing.
The creation narrative in Genesis says that we are made of the same thing, all earthen vessels, all dirt bags while race says we are different in a number of ways.
We are so different, and God wants to keep us that way, race proclaims. Except that goes against what Jesus prayed: “That they may all be one” (John 17:21).
The Divine Community, the holy Trinity, can come together and agree, but we, mere mortals, cannot. Source, Son and Spirit, that’s good for Them but we don’t want to hear it.
Race says, “It’s impossible,” but Jesus said, “All things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). Is race or Jesus the obstacle? Because either we get over race or get over Jesus, trading his gospel for one that color-codes his face.
Let’s not forget that we have generational silence to defend. There are traditions of hate that our families have invested in. What are we going to tell our children? Besides, who would we be without our divisions?
Somehow the early church shared all things in common (Acts 4:32). Yet, we have a denomination, a tradition, a worship service for every difference we encounter.
Rather than come together for intentional and constructive conversation with the end goal being collaboration, we continue to play a zero-sum game. However, more and more believers are not showing up for this kind of Sunday morning practice, walking away from the church in hopes of getting closer to Jesus.
“One Lord, one faith, one baptism,” we are charged to work as one body and for the common good (Ephesians 4:5-6). No exclusive rights for hands or special privileges for feet. No velvet rope for bleeding hearts or special seating for big heads.
Because it is Christ’s body — not ours. Still, there is fighting — eyes against ears, hands against feet, the strong against the weak.
Every limb for itself! The body of Christ is attacking itself. The church is its own worst enemy, turning on its own members.
And there is nothing worse than a church fight, especially for those of us who grew up in abusive homes. For our own theological safety, we’ll leave the church and stay with Jesus, Mary, Joseph and their other children.
Please try to understand me. “Do not give up on our church meetings” sounds like a stained-glass threat (Hebrews 10:25).
I shouldn’t feel trapped in a patriarchal tradition or forced to worship within a toxic theological relationship with scripture. No, we should call these frameworks into question, faithfully deconstruct and then build on the rubble.
Most often associated with the work of Jacques Derrida, deconstruction has taken on new meaning for Christians who are carefully examining their faith and motives for believing.
I call a racialized faith into question because it challenges my understanding of God’s omnipotence and sovereignty. I simply cannot believe that God has to identify as a color to be considered all-powerful or in community with the marginalized.
The gospel, and likewise life, does not come in black and white. It is not either/or but both/ and.
You can criticize a system, the status quo, an institution while creating new structures, new languages and new ways of being. You can protest and march in a different direction. Martin Luther King Jr. did it.
Prophets see ahead while also seeing clearly the work ahead. “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand,” Jesus said (Matthew 4:17).
Dreaming, visioning, packing up and readying one’s self for the “kin-dom” coming does not suggest that the struggle for justice and equality isn’t real, that we are somehow post-racial, that we put on colorblind lenses and see no problems here.
There is the fear that one will take away from the other. But we are tearing down in preparation for new structures. We are deconstructing and will need new material. We are untying our tongues and will need new speech.
Someone has got to prepare to that end. Or else, what is the point exactly?
The Raceless Gospel is my life’s message, my magnum opus and my contribution to the church.
Increasingly, I feel that I am speaking to a generation coming. They will not grow up with a taste for our traditional hatreds, our culture and gender wars, our racialized identities, our hyper-politicized divisions.
They will want something new, which is why I have so much more deconstructing to do.