Race, Politics, and Faith
God shows no partiality. Romans 2:11
Where I live – in West-Central Minnesota – we have a significant Muslim population, immigrated from Somalia. I’ve heard it said, that to be Somali is to be Muslim. Their ethnic background is tied tightly to their religious beliefs. I’d have to say that’s at least somewhat true of me as well. Of course, our faiths – Christian and Muslim – are at odds with each other. They believe one thing about Jesus Christ, and I believe something very different.
So, most of the people I know (in mostly white small-town Minnesota) with black skin color believe differently than me. Probably not for the better then, I’ve largely come to equate ethnic background with a faith with which I disagree. Whether by conscious choice or not, my faith (a good thing) has become tied to ethnic bias based on skin color (not a good thing).
We don’t just do this with faith though. Our religion is often inextricably linked to our political beliefs and sometimes, it’s impossible to separate the two. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t stand for our beliefs. We absolutely should. I’m just saying that our faith gets wrapped up (not always for the better) with our views on politics and race.
This was the case in Paul’s time as well. For thousands of years, the Jews believed they were God’s chosen people. Then, in today’s passage, Paul undid all of that by declaring that the gospel is for all and that God shows no partiality. This was radical. For the Jews, their bias against non-Jews was closely tied to their faith. In today’s passage, Paul insisted they walk away from generations of ethnic, political, and religious prejudice. Obedience to Christ was more important than race, politics, or tradition.
This doesn’t mean we can’t disagree. A Muslim believes very differently than a Christian and we don’t have to pretend otherwise. Unfortunately, though, we’ve come to see those with different beliefs as the enemy. “I disagree with you” too often turns into “I hate you.” To follow Christ above all though, means putting our faith above all. This means that our faith must trump our politics and racial attitudes. Anything we cling to that repels others from Christ, must be abandoned.
As Christians, our purpose is Christ above all. We are to be a beacon to others that they may find and know him. Anything standing in the way of that – politics, ethnicity, or racial views – is something we put above God. God shows no partiality, and neither should we.