For all of you who were baptised 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. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:27-29
Is this something we really believe at Emmanuel – that race, colour and culture are of no consequence, because we are ‘all one in Christ Jesus’? Do we think race, colour and culture are issues that should not cause prejudice in society? You may be thinking that this is a stupid question – just look at the number of people from different nations that are part of Emmanuel and part of the UK. However, that in itself does not answer the question. Often our underlying attitudes are revealed in the comments we may make, not thinking about the implications. That is why a question about a baby’s colour before they are born is offensive and reveals underlying attitudes. Why does a baby’s colour matter? It is important for us as part of the body of Christ to honestly face issues of prejudice and be prepared to have conversations relating to race, so that we can truly reflect what Paul was saying to the Galatians. Just recently I asked the leadership to read ‘We Need To Talk About Race’ by Ben Lindsay. We will be talking about the book and what we might learn from it for Emmanuel Baptist Church. I recommend the book to you. In fact I positively encourage you to get a copy, read it and talk with me about it. It is a book for all people at Emmanuel.
Discussing issues of race and prejudice is hard for all people. As Christians, we need to face up to this and be willing to deal with uncomfortable truths. People from other nations who belong to Emmanuel do face racism in their everyday lives. They need to know that their Christian brothers and sisters do not see skin colour and culture as a reason for them to be treated differently. They have faced racism in the church – whether at Emmanuel or elsewhere. They need to know that we will address this issue and be repentant when it is us who have caused the problem. We do need to understand that racism is not just an issue for other countries or societies, but one that is an issue here in the UK and in Gravesend. As the Church of Jesus Christ that professes all are one in Him, we need to be part of the solution. Read the book. Start the conversation. Let’s be open to God the Holy Spirit transforming us as a church.