So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 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 3:26-28)
There’s a lot going on in the world right now. Presidential elections, threats of war, blatant and pervasive misogyny, racism, and xenophobia. At the heart of it is all is the fundamental misunderstanding that we are all different breeds when we all share the same bloodline.
A month ago I returned to the states from a two week trip to Kenya. My heart has been heavy with grief in the time since my return. I am mourning the loss of humanity that plagues our country.
When people are run down on the street for opposing points of view or shot because of the color of their skin, there is a disease that infiltrates the minds of the “greatest nation.” We believe that we are irreconcilably different, that there is no salve to the pain that we feel. No solution to the fear. It is fear that drives us to kill our brothers and fear that divides families.
We fear the conservatives and we fear liberals alike. We argue over semantics and fight over legal trapezes, while African American teenagers are shot in broad daylight because they looked “suspicious” for their skin color or bomb threats sweep through our campuses as students try to make their voices heard. The loudest sound is violence.
It is normal to see a murder when scrolling your newsfeed, common place to see black bodies slain on the television, even more common to make terse jokes about racism and hide behind a veil of ignorance that says if it’s a joke it doesn’t matter. But it does matter. Because segregation is segregation no matter how you slice it.
I will never understand the plight of African Americans on a personal level, and I will never be ignorant to believe that I could share in the pain of isolation — centuries of fighting simply to be recognized as human, targeted because more pigment somehow equates to a more violent person in the minds of the xenophobic – but I cannot stand by while our brothers and sisters are slain in the street because of misunderstandings of God’s design for humanity.
God designed us to be one.
Not one up, not one better, not one less – but one.
How good and pleasant is it when God’s people live together in unity! (Psalm 133:1)
For the past year my heart has mourned in tenfold what I have felt my whole life.
I cannot understand how we could ever justify a system that places any percentage of God’s creation above the next when each of us is fully known and created by a God who created culture. I have been stunned by our lack of response to the violence in our world within the church. We cannot continue to fear what we do not understand.
I wish I had some sort of extensive thesis, or extremely persuasive argument to make you believe it, but the truth is, no one will ever believe in equality until there is a radical transformation of the heart.
This has become increasingly clear to me as I have been processing my time in East Africa. The world is a small place. We say that a lot, but we often don’t understand what it means. But, like I wrote last week, we are all connected, we are all one – and therefore, it doesn’t matter if there is 12,000 miles or 12 miles between us, we need to be fighting for the humanity that we have forgotten. We need to be fighting to understand, to learn, to know the plight of our brothers and sisters from every background.
On the night we said goodbye to our new friends in Kenya I wept the entire time. Fat, warm tears that coated my cheeks until they were sticky with red dirt. I hugged all of the babies at the orphanage close, kissed all their heads, told them I loved them and wept because I had to leave them.
I made my way over to my friend who worked at the orphanage, and looked him in the eyes.
“Why are you crying, sister?” He asked.
“Because I am sad to leave,” I said.
He smiled at me and I cried harder.
“Get strong sister,” he said, “get strong so you can come back.” He traced a line down his forearm, along the vein, “this blood is the same as yours. We are one. Go back to America and tell them we are one. Get strong sister.”
And of course, I cried harder.
Throughout my time in Kenya the Spirit had been pressing one thing on my heart: the unity of God’s creation. No matter if we are across the world or in the house next door, we are one. We were all designed to be one. We were all designed to love one another as a unit.
So in response, I would like to offer the cry of my heart these past weeks (and months, and years):
To everyone who feels overlooked and forgotten: I see you. To those of you who feel like your voice isn’t being heard: I hear you. To those of you who feel small and insignificant: you are known, and you are deeply loved. We have the same blood, no matter the color of your skin, no matter where you come from – you are so loved. I am sorry for the ways that you have been hurt and I am sorry for how complacent we have all become. I know that I cannot understand what you have been through, the obstacles that you have had to face for reasons that are inhumane at best, but I want to listen. I want to fight for you and I am fighting for you.
It can be hard to see the light in the midst of darkness, but I have faith that there is something bigger than the turmoil of our world and the corruption of our society, because no matter how many corrupt politicians or evil leaders come into power none of them can be credited with the creation of the world.
So let’s love one another, and let’s serve one another well. That’s what we were created to do. Before the color of our skin, our gender, our abilities, our socioeconomic status we are a family. So let’s fight for each other as the brothers and sisters that we are.
“Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:2-3)
Until next time, wonder on.