In April, Vince & I planned to attend T4G 2008 (Together For the Gospel @ Southern Seminary) -- however, due to conflicts we were not able to go. We did, however, get to listen online. One speaker especially impacted us:
Thabiti Anyabwile, pastor in Grand Cayman, shared a message entitled Bearing the Image: Identity, the Work of Christ, and the Church (you can click on the message title to find it & listen). In the midst of adopting from Africa, what Thabiti shared was not only compelling, but convicting...
Here's an excerpt/paraphrase...
Six reasons to abandon the category of race:
1- Abuse of people & scripture...Gen 1, 3, 5, 10 have been tragically taken out of context to promote man's agenda, not God's
2- It’s a very short walk from race to racism (from unity to disunity)...the word 'race' is most always used to highlight differences, not similarities
3- Race as a topic prevents/hinders meaningful engagement with others…the idea of race is inherently against ‘the man’… the topic of ‘race’ has an internal self-destruct mechanism
4- Race undermines the authority & sufficiency of Scripture…God’s Word defines us as ALL being created in His image, different skin colors are in perfect unity in God, because God is in perfect unity with himself...Race infers a genetic, biological difference among humans that is permanent
5- Race causes us to resist the Holy Spirit...when God impresses on our soul to reach out to someone of another ethnicity, race becomes an imaginary canyon we cannot cross
6- Race undermines the Gospel itself..."Go into ALL nations..."
All skin colors of humanity are...
...in union with Adam-- we are each fallen & sinful
Rom 3:22-24 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
...in union with Christ (as Believers)-- we are all being transformed into the likeness of Christ; our new self is being renewed in the image of our Creator
Col 3:11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
...in unity with the church-- the Church should display the new humanity created in Jesus
Eph 5:14-21 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.
...unified in glory--
Rev 5:9-10 And they sang a new song:
"You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."
All that said, Thabiti did not undermine the beauty of ethnicity, which is permeable & adaptable -- and the supreme ethnicity for Christians is ‘Christian'.