God Has A Plan, Are You Going To Help? Racial Reconciliation
Genesis 9:1-16 Ephesians 2:11-22
For the Next three Sundays we will be joining Bay Presbyterian Church in doing a series on Racial Reconciliation. The first message will deal with a theology of race, the second message will be a pulpit exchange with Pastor Mark preaching here, and I will be at Bay on “A View From The Other side”.
The last message will be on “Where do we go from here.” Today I am going to give us a background on the concept race in the Scriptures.
How many of you know that God is a God of great imagination? How many of you know that a rose is a beautiful flower, but you can be thankful that God created some other kinds of flowers.
Their presence and their beauty does not diminish the beauty of the rose. If you put them together in the right arrangement, you can create something far more spectacular than simply having a display of roses.
Did you know that God is so creative that when it comes to apples, there are 7500 different varieties of apples in the world with 2500 of them grown in the United States.
It does not matter, whether it is fish, birds, rocks, galaxies or snowflakes. God creates things and then creates varieties within those things, and further creates diversities within the varieties. God has given us the job of furthering creation, by providing us with wisdom to create a host of hybrids of both plants and animals.
What is it according to the Bible that separates human beings from all other life forms? We as human beings have all been created in the image of God. That one single fact lifts us all above the animal world and at the same time places us all on the same level of standing in the eyes of God.
In the eyes of God, all of humanity began as one race. Every member of that race is entitled to a certain amount of respect and dignity simply because he or she is in the image of God.
When God created Adam and Eve, what color was their hair. What were the color of their eyes. What was the color of their skin? How tall were they? Which shape type of human face did they have? The answer to these questions has been found in a book that’s over 2000 years old. It tells us that we do not have the faintest idea to the answers to these questions.
That book that tells us this is the bible. When God created humanity, these things were not in the least bit important to God? What mattered to God, was, would they love God by choosing to obey him or would they choose to believe lies about God’s character and do their own thing.
After Adam and Eve deliberately rejected God’s one command, things went from bad to worse. The more people multiplied upon the earth, the more they rejected the things of God and God Himself. The bible tells us that the thoughts of the entire human race was on evil all the time and they became very violent toward one another.
I find it interesting that nothing is mentioned in the history of humankind before the flood about racial divisions among the people. The only race that exists in God’s eyes is the human race. When God regrets that He had created humanity. It’s the human race that had broken the heart of God.
God’s plan was that the human race would seek to serve Him and to be in a right relationship to Him so that we could be in a right relationship with one another. After God saved humanity through Noah and his family, God gave all of a humanity a fresh new start.
At this point, everyone is in relationship to the one true God. God tells them again to be fruitful, increase in number and fill the earth. God also tells them that God consider every human life valuable because it is created in the image of God.
God will hold any animal accountable for killing a person. God will hold any person accountable for killing another person. A person who intentionally took the life of another person was not to be permitted to live.
God also makes a promise to never destroy all of life again by a flood. He gives us the rainbow as a sign of his promise. For the next 350 years everybody speaks the same language, but not everybody is willing to obey God.
God told them to scatter over the face of the world and fill it up with people. Instead the people got together and decided to build a great city that would reach high into the sky. They wanted to make a name for themselves. They were not going to be scattered all over the earth as God had told them to do.
Even though they knew God had a plan for them, they rejected that plan and were not willing to help God with it. They decided they were not going anywhere. There is something in us that just does not want to do what God tells us to do.
The scriptures tells us that God decides enough is enough with this rebellion. In the midst of their great building project, God confuses their language. One group of people can no longer understand another group. There is confusion every where.
There was a oneness in thought that existed in humanity that all of a sudden no longer exists. The Hebrew text suggests more than simply a misunderstanding of words, there is a misunderstanding of concepts on an emotional level as well. There was a common language that we all spoke that has been lost to us all. This great city that was to be a name for humanity was called “Babel” which means confusion.
I don’t know how God did it, but God instantly placed groups of people all over the world. Those different groups gave birth to children that looked most like them The original division of people was not based on race but on language. We lost the ability to communicate with one another and with God. Once again we reached the point where no single group of people is serving the true God.
Even though we talk about race as though it was some distinct scientific definition, it is not. The truth is we are related to one another in some very complex ways. If I need a blood transfusion, you can’t just find another Black person and put their blood inside of me.
You need to know that my blood type is B positive. I need B positive blood or O positive blood from a person regardless of whether they are red, yellow, black, white or brown. God always intended for the human race to be dependent upon each other physically and spiritually.
God wanted to make himself known to a people, who could then tell other people what God was like and what God’s laws were. God wanted to be in relationship to the human race.
He did not choose a group of people based on their race. God started with Abraham and Sarah and from there the world was divided into two main religions. Those who served Almighty God, and those who served other gods. Those who served Almighty God became known as the Jews.
But God made it clear, there was nothing special about the Jews from the start. They were not the largest or most powerful nation. They were a very small and humble group. Yet God set his affection upon them and did a work in their lives for the benefit of the whole world. Throughout the whole book of Genesis, you do not find racism as a basis for people interacting with each other.
When Moses led the people of God out of Israel, he led a multiethnic group of people. There is no way you could be in Egypt for 400 years and not have people of a variety of colors.
The first indication we have of racial prejudice in the Bible is in Numbers chapter 12. The people have left Egypt and have seen a number of miracles from God. They have not yet made it to the promised land.
Moses was being exalted more and more by the people. His sister Miriam and his brother Aaron started to get jealous. They wanted to be seen as Moses’ equal. It wasn’t enough that Miriam was seen as the leading prophetess in the nation and Aaron was the high priest over them. They wanted more.
The only thing they could do was to attack Moses personally in order to erode his leadership. They began to say to others, “Aren’t you disappointed that Moses took a Cushite to be his wife.” Some translations use the word Ethiopian instead of Cushite. Cush is the land south of Egypt where Ethiopia is today.
Miriam and Aaron were the first recorded persons to use the race card as a means to separate and divide the people. “Don’t you think we would be better off if Moses had of married one of us.” “Don’t you think he should not have married a black or dark skinned woman.”
God didn’t like people playing the race card then and God does not like it now. God called the three of them together. God gave Miriam and Aaron a stinging rebuke and God left them in anger.
Miriam instantly turned into a leper with her skin becoming as white as snow. Aaron found himself confessing to Moses that both of them had been wrong and he starts begging Moses to pray for her.
Moses starts praying, please God forgive her. God forgives her but she has the illness for seven days. If someone wants to know what’s your opinion on interracial marriage just say I agree with Numbers 12.
It’s something how an issue is not an issue until certain people bring it up. All those people were getting along okay, until Miriam got jealous. She thought she could use racial tension for her own power and personal gain.
She got Aaron to go along with her. God held her accountable almost instantly for what she did. What if we did the same thing in our country for those who race bait us?
To listen to the news, you would think at times we have been ready for a racial war to take place in this country. How many of us have seriously thought about going to war against another race of people in this country?
How would you know who were your enemies and who were your friends? How many of you have a friend of another race, whom you believe would lay down their life for you? If you have none, then chances are you have not gone the extra mile to love people from you.
The more we talk about the racial divide that separates us, the bigger the divide seems to get. For example, do you remember before the 2018 mid term elections, all we heard about was the mass number of immigrants heading for the southern border.
We had to come up with a solution either to build a wall to stop them or to help them get some sort of status to let them into the country. We were bombarded with stories about families getting separated. Justice demanded that something be done.
After the elections were over, we barely heard a thing about the people coming from Central America. Did everybody turn around and go back home? Did everybody get let in with a job? Are all the families reunited?
For many of us, once the news media didn’t see much of an advantage to keeping us informed and divided, they moved on to the next issue.
What seemed like a huge problem, wasn’t as big as it first seemed because we weren’t constantly being told we have a huge problem. We either forgot about the problem or we just didn’t really care anymore.
Do you remember how we dreaded the day we were reaching 50,000 Covid 19 related deaths. The news kept us on edge. It happened on April 24th 2020. We reached 50,000 and had flags at half staff and moments of silence.
Why weren’t we doing the same thing at 100,000 and again at 200,000, and again at 300,000 and as of Friday it was at 389,000. Yet that reality won’t divide us anymore because most of us have on masks. So let’s move to the next divisive issue and give it all our news coverage and make it far worse than it really is.
Racism is real. But everything we call racism is not racially motivated. If my goal is to make a lot of money, then where I put my business is going to impact how much money I make. Is my decision a racist one if I choose one neighborhood over another?
If I want my house to increase in value, where I build my house will impact how much it increases in value. Is my decision a racist one to build in one city and not another?
If I want my kids in a particular school system, is it racist to decide to leave my struggling district to go to a better one?
Still yet, who gets to determine if my decision was a racist one, me or the people negatively impacted by my decision? How much of a payment do I have to make to prove that I am not a racist?
God has never wanted the human race to stay divided in itself or to stay away from God. When God first chose Abraham, God’s plan was to come up with a system that every nation on the planet could be blessed. God called Abraham to get the process of sending Jesus Christ into this world further along.
We had this division among people between the Jews and the Gentiles. If you were not a Jew, then you were a Gentile. In the Old Testament of the Bible, the Jewish people were convinced that God saw them in a higher state because they had received the laws of God. They were God’s chosen people.
But then in the gospel of John,
John writes, John 3:16-18 (NIV2011)
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
God’s division of people has nothing to do with race. It has everything to do with belief in Jesus Christ. It is in yielding to Christ that racism gets removed from our hearts.
Jesus wanted to restore the oneness we had with our language and our thoughts but instead of it being bent toward rebellion, he wanted it bent toward God. Jesus prayed, John 17:20-21 (NIV2011) 20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
The apostle Paul tells us that one of the mysteries of Christ coming into the world was to be our peace and Christ was to reunite us into one humanity by destroying the barrier’s between us and dividing the wall of hostility. Part of the reason that Christ suffered in the beating and in the crucifixion was to create in Himself, one new humanity.
God’s plan was to use Christ to reconcile all of us to each other and to God, because on the cross he put to death our hostility. Do we want to let go of the hostility or do we want to hold on to it and tell Jesus that he died in vain as far as we’re concerned?
You see when we are joined to Christ, as the church we become his body. Ephesians tell us that we are rising to become a holy temple in the Lord. The purpose of the temple is to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
You are not only going to be part of the final temple building, you’re part of it now. God is a colorful God. I think we’re different colors because God wants his temple to be a beautiful one.
It was God’s plan to put humanity in a variety of shapes and colors. God’s made it possible for us to continue adding different shades and colors to all of humanity.
As the body of Christ, I urge you to reject the notion that we can’t do what Jesus told us to do. The church becomes its weakest when we think we have to follow the world in doing things its way to bring about justice.
Jesus told us how we are to start in looking at a theology of race in John 13:33 when he said. “A new commandment, I give to you, that you love another as I have loved you. By this shall all people know that you are my disciples if you have love one for another.
Dr. King told us “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Will we be the light of the world? Will we choose to love rather than to hate.
If the church will not follow path of Jesus, there can be no lasting hope for this world, for we shall then all fall under the wrath of God.