By Rubin E. Grant
Rubin E. Grant is a sportswriter for Over The Mountain Journal.
The killing of George Floyd and the subsequent national unrest caused me to think about my identity as a so-called black Christian. I say so-called because a Christian doesn’t carry an ethnic label.
This is not the first time I’ve had these thoughts. I have thought about it off and on for a number of years, including in 2007 when my wife and I decided to become members of Mountain Brook Community Church, a primarily “white” church in an ultra affluent Birmingham suburb. After we made that decision, a black friend unashamedly asked us, “Couldn’t you find a good black church to go to?” Perhaps, but MBCC was the place God sent us for our spiritual growth and to serve.
As I thought more and more about my identity, not only as a Christian, but a black man in America, I reached the following conclusion while looking through the lens of scripture.
I believe scripture shows that our ethnicity should no longer be a focal point when we are born again. We have a new identity. I am not a black Christian, but a Christian housed in a black body. My nature has changed. I am a child of God.
So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away—look, what is new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NET Bible
I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 NET Bible
For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female—for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26-27
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. You once were not a people, but now you are God’s people. You were shown no mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10
Can you show me in any of those verses where ethnicity comes in? In 1 Peter 2:11, he even calls us foreigners and exiles. Why? Because once we’re in Christ, we are no longer of the world even though we are in the world. We are God’s children and subjects of His Kingdom, no matter our ethnicity.
But our citizenship is in heaven—and we also eagerly await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, … Philippians 3:20 NET Bible
Furthermore, my heritage is Christ not black or African-American. I long for the day when the Church in America realizes the Kingdom of God is made up of people of all ethnicities and therefore all of us are brothers and sisters.
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself bears witness to our spirit that we are God’s children. And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ)—if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:14-17 (emphasis added)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5 NET Bible (emphasis added)
Finally, God isn’t trying to make us a better black person, a better white person, a better red person, a better yellow person, a better olive person. He saved us to look like Jesus.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18
… those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters … Romans 8:29
See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure. 1 John 3:1-3 NLT
Even so, I can’t ignore the systemic and institutionalized racism in America as it relates to blacks. I have experienced it and I have seen it throughout our nation, in the workplace, in housing, in education, in policing, in the criminal justice system, in various other places, and sadly, even in the church, where we have allowed Satan to use racism to divide us so we cannot speak with one voice to a dying and lost world.
Now may the God of endurance and comfort give you unity with one another in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:5-6
I think the key to glorifying God is found in the very next verse. Receive one another, then, just as Christ also received you, to God’s glory. Romans 15:7 NET Bible
So, regardless what ethic backgrounds our brothers and sisters come from, receive them, embrace them, love them as Christ received you, embraced you and loved you. In doing so, you glorify God.
And what Christian doesn’t want to bring God glory?