Anyone can read this, but I’m primarily addressing this topic to my brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of what denomination one professes (including no denomination).
This matter has been concerning me for a while and I feel compelled to finally say something. I hope to encourage and not offend. I’ll apologize in advance if the latter happens.
This is a simple point and it’s for everyone (not just white people):
If your church is only comprised of people who are the same ethnicity/race as yourself, do you think it will be the same in Heaven?
Do you believe that souls will be segregated (or that people will be allowed to self-segregate) by what race they were when they were alive on Earth?
According to the Bible, they won’t be.
Romans 10: 11-13 (King James Version)
"For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
Galatians 3: 26-28 (KJV)
"For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."
So, there is no reason for us to be separated when we worship our God and Savior, certainly not by ethnicity or race. I see that as humankind’s personal preferences and biases. Prejudices, if I may be so bold.
In the New Testament, some of Jesus’s disciples had trouble accepting the Gentiles, even Peter. The apostle Paul strongly rebuked Peter for that.
Galatians 2: 11-17 (KJV)
"But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid."
Eventually, the Lord Himself had to educate Peter.
Acts 10: 9-35 (KJV)
"On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, and saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:
Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.
Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate, and called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.
While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?
And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee. Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends.
And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man. And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together. And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me? And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.
Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him."
What I’m saying is, this is not new. As Solomon once said, there is nothing new under the sun. But God has not changed in the last two thousand years. We weren’t supposed to be separated based on race then and we aren’t now. It is a learned behavior. But there’s time to unlearn it and change.
Nearly thirty years ago, when Angel and I were still engaged, I was the only white member of an all-black church. Literally, the only people who would talk to me were almost exclusively the ministers and musicians, since I played electric bass guitar for them. When Angel was away in the Army, I still attended that church, even though it was lonely. It didn’t feel good to get blank or untrusting stares from people who professed to be Christians. I didn’t understand it then, I accepted it because I didn’t know any different.
I know my experience then does not compare to what others go through. But it was a sad taste of it. No one should feel unwelcome in a House of God. If God and Jesus love us regardless of race or anything else, shouldn’t we love everyone?
In John 13: 34-35 (KJV), Jesus said:
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
I John 4: 20-21 (KJV)
"If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also."
Thanks for reading this.
About the author
Allen Steadham is a nondenominational Christian. Happily interracially married since 1995 and the proud father of two sons and a daughter. He and his wife have been in the same Christian band since 1997. He plays electric bass, she plays strings, they both sing. It's all good.
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