“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” —Galatians 3:28
We all have cultural biases, values and preferences that we grew up with in our family of origin. I did not realize how many biases I had until I was immersed in a different culture. I remember being keenly aware of this one day in the late nineties as I was walking through a field in the inner city of Philadelphia. I was in a tough neighbourhood, and I saw there was a young black male walking towards me with two pit bulls. As I walked towards him, I started to become really nervous. All of the hip-hop videos that I had seen and some of the gang culture that I had grown up being exposed to through the media started to flood through my mind. I honestly thought I was going to die on the field that day. As we got closer, he looked me in the eyes with a big smile across his face, gave me a warm greeting and we struck up a conversation. He turned out to be one of the nicest people I met that year during my missions’ experience. I did not realize all the bias that was in my heart, and how my perspectives had been shaped by the mass media culture surrounding me.
From Scripture, we perceive God’s heart is that the Gospel is for every nation, tribe, people and language. His desire and His plans are to make us one. Paul tells us, “For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in His flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility” (Ephesians 2:14-16). Who are the two groups that are hostile to one another but Christ came to make them one? The Jews and the Gentiles.
God’s vision is oneness in Christ, but in order for that vision to be realized, God has to meet us where we are at and lead us towards His vision. Oftentimes, this requires deep surgery to lift the divisions and hostilities out of our hearts, and maybe even out of our theology.
The Gospel invites us to see the world differently. Maybe there is a cultural, racial or ethnic group that we wrestle with or are uncomfortable around. God’s plan is to make us one, and that plan includes taking a journey towards brotherhood and sisterhood across conventional, cultural boundaries.
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, I confess my cultural biases that I have held towards a racial or ethnic group. Thank You for coming into this world not only to reconcile our relationship with God, but also with each other.