Should You Choose a Church Based Upon Your Race?

Should you choose a church based upon your race?

The Apostle Peter, writing to a racially diverse group of people from different regions, cultures, ancestries, said of them, “But you are a chosen race…” (1 Peter 2:9). Why was Peter calling people of many races “a” race?

Race, or ethnicity, has to do with common ancestry. For instance, the Jewish leaders relied heavily on their ancestry lineage to Abraham. They believed the genetic link to Abraham made them right with God. However, Jesus infuriated the Pharisees by letting them know that, even though Abraham was their genetic father, Satan was their spiritual father.

They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did,but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.You are doing the works your father did.”They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. (John 8:39-44)

These particular Jews were related to Abraham by blood, but not by belief. As the New Testament progresses, we see a new race of people becoming increasingly revealed that transcends earthly ancestry and traditional views of race. The new race is created by God Himself. And it is a race that is not made up of one particular skin tone. In fact, this new race of people cannot be determined by outward appearance. It is a race of people who look incredibly diverse, yet have all been born-again into thesame family of God.

In the book of Acts, we see that salvation come first to thousands of Jews (a people racially connected to Abraham)1 . Later, the same gospel that saved the Jews on Pentecost was proclaimed to the Samaritans (a racially mixed group of people, part Jew and part other)2 .If this wasn’t shocking enough, Peter was commanded to go and preach the gospel to even the Gentiles (a people with absolutely no ancestral affiliation to Abraham)3 . As Peter was preaching the gospel to them, a whole household of Gentiles is saved. This was so shocking to the Jewish leadership that Peter was called back to Jerusalem to give an account for what he had done. After Peter’s eyewitness account, the Christian Jewish leaders finally realized that salvation through Christ was for people of all races. “When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, ‘Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life’” (Acts 11:18).

It took years to convince the Jews, and even the Apostles, that all races were saved in exactly the same way and that unity in Christ was far more important than unity in a race. As Christians, they now had ancestry that superseded any other. God was their Father, Christ their Savior, and the Holy Spirit indwelt all of them. Racial reconciliation was more and more realized as the Christians understood mankind’s universal need to be reconciled to God by Jesus Christ.

The new race of people was utterly mixed from the human perspective: Jew, Ethiopian, Samaritan, Gentile, Roman, Asian, and etc.…  All different shades of skin, but one shade of soul; forgiven by the same sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. These believers had different blood, but the same belief in Jesus Christ. They had different earthly fathers, but one Heavenly Father.

By the time Peter writes 1 Peter, we see that he has fully realized that the body of Christ is a beautiful gathering of people from all different ancestries into one new race in Jesus Christ.

So, should you choose a church based upon your race?

Of course not! To do so is a radical slip backward in our understanding of the work of God in redemption to create a new race. To emphasize our skin tones or genetic differences is to return to the racial discrimination that Jesus abolished. Such ethnic emphasis divides and disregards the unity that we all have in Jesus Christ.

Remember, the Apostle Peter was writing to a racially diverse group of people, yet he did not emphasize their differences at all. Instead, the first two chapters were spent emphasizing their sameness, same: God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, mercy, grace, regeneration, inheritance, etc.

So, as you look for a local gathering of believers to be a part of, don’t look for a group that represents your skin tone the best, look for a group of people that reflect God’s glory the best.
 
~ Trey Talley

References

1. Acts 2:22, 41

2. Acts 8:4-12

3. Acts 13:34-48