This is part 6 of an essay I wrote on Paul’s famous “One Body, Many Parts” metaphor as a practical guide for becoming a church that is unified across our ethnic and racial differences. 

PUTTING CHILDISH PREJUDICES BEHIND

I began this essay back at the Tower of Babel, where the human race in the throes of adolescent rebellion, became too big for its britches. Justly chastised and “grounded,” they were scattered to the four winds and left “babbling” like babes in the nursery again. In Abraham, God set into motion a new plan to grow a worldwide family whose racial and ethnic differences could be sewn together into a beautiful, colorful tapestry to display God’s glory.

In Christ, and through the church born at Pentecost, the plan continues to unfold, even while those charged with knitting together the multiethnic masterpiece are too often reverting to racial and ethnic immaturity. 

It’s time for the Body of Christ to grow up in this central aspect of our gospel witness. Like a refrigerated teething ring given to an infant cutting her teeth, so I have offered Paul’s ‘Body Metaphor’ from 1 Corinthians 12 and its surrounding context for the church to chew on as we strive toward maturity and seek to become One Unified Body of Many Ethnic Parts. Once again, riffing on and adapting Paul’s memorable lines: 

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew racial and ethnic intelligence, I put childish prejudices and racial myopia behind me. For now many in the church and culture still see the issue of race and ethnicity “darkly as in a mirror,” but many others are beginning to see face to face and we see Christ reflected back to us in the face of the other ethnic parts of the One Body. Now we know our racially different brothers and sisters in part (and too often with suspicion and stereotypes); but someday soon, by God’s grace and the Spirit’s guidance, we shall know our brothers and sisters of different backgrounds fully, even as we are fully known (1 Cor. 13:11-12 my adaptation). 

With faith, hope and love as our threefold cord to bind together what man has too often torn asunder, let us keep marching toward the “radiant stars of love and brotherhood” Dr. King dreamed of and gave his life for in pursuing:

Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.

 

Hope you’ll read full essay at http://www.jeremyberg.org.

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