By Derwin L. Gray
While I was sipping coffee and working on my book, How To Heal Our Racial Divide, an older, white gentleman in the coffee shop asked me what I was doing.
When I told him I was writing a book on how to heal the racial divide, he responded that there was no racial divide in America and that he didn’t see people’s color. I said, “Brother, why not? God made me this way, and He made you the way you are. He wants you to appreciate my beautiful color, just as he wants me to appreciate your beautiful color.”We take our colors and ethnicities with us in the new heaven and new earth (Revelation 7:9). — @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet
In recognizing our different “colors” and cultures we are acknowledging our equality in Christ as children of Abraham. We take our colors and ethnicities with us in the new heaven and new earth (Revelation 7:9).
The flaws of colorblindness
Colorblind ideology is prevalent in the American church, and those who say, “I don’t see color” are often thought to be virtuous. I get the sentiment behind the statement, but it’s flawed and damaging. It is flawed because God created our different ethnicities and colors (Acts 17:26). Every human being bears the image of God, and each ethnicity is a mirror that reflects God’s image back into the world. To be blind to the beauty in our diverse colors and cultures is to miss an aspect of God’s creative genius. I have found white brothers and sisters who say they don’t see color are often those whose color has not been a historic disadvantage for them or their ancestors.To be blind to the beauty in our diverse colors and cultures is to miss an aspect of God’s creative genius. — @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet
Colorblind ideology also creates a false sense that everything is okay. Colorblind ideology acts like a spiritual sleeping aid that causes some of my white siblings in Christ to ignore certain injustices they will not experience. It takes great gospel-humility to care about issues that may not affect people who look like you. Paul, a first century, racial reconciler wrote, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4, CSB).
Colorblind ideology is bad theology. It diminishes the glory of God and causes people of color to feel unseen and unvalued. In all my years on earth, and in twenty-plus years of ministry, I have never heard a white person say to another white person, “I do not see your color. I am colorblind.” Just as colorblind ideology has distracted the church from its mission of biblical reconciliation, color-blessed discipleship will help us fulfill our mission of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:14-20). God, in an act of unmatched grace, reconciled us to himself so we could experience the joy of siblingship. Our God is a God of reconciliation (Ephesians 2:14-16; Colossians 1:19-20).
What is color-blessed discipleship?
Color-blessed discipleship is the process by which God the Holy Spirit forms Christ in the family He promised Abraham (Galatians 3:8, 28-29; 4:19). In the Spirit’s power, as we yield to His loving initiatives, we learn to love, value, advocate for, and celebrate each other’s ethnic and cultural differences (Romans 12:9-21). We learn to lay our lives down for one another (1 John 3:16).The reconciliation of Jesus is vertical and horizontal. You cannot have one without the other. It’s not a fad or a trend; rather, it is at the center of the gospel (Ephesians 2:8-16; 3:6-13). — @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet
Color-blessed disciples understand that ethnic reconciliation is intrinsic to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Gone are the days of believing Jesus only accomplished vertical reconciliation. The reconciliation of Jesus is vertical and horizontal. You cannot have one without the other. It’s not a fad or a trend; rather, it is at the center of the gospel (Ephesians 2:8-16; 3:6-13).
Color-blessed discipleship understands that God in Christ gives us good news, so we can be good family members, blessing one another and pursuing justice on behalf of one another. Our love for one another proves that we are Jesus’s disciples (1 John 3:10; John 13:34-35).
It will take a discipleship revolution to heal the racial divide that is ravaging the church. It will take gospel-soaked, color-blessed disciples. I believe you can be such a person. You have been called, chosen, and empowered by the Holy Spirit for such a time as this.
Derwin is the co-founding and lead pastor of Transformation Church in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. He is a former NFL player and author of several books, including his most recent, How To Heal Our Racial Divide: What the Bible Says, and the First Christians Knew, about Racial Reconciliation. Learn more at DerwinLGray.com.
Adapted from an excerpt in Dr. Gray’s forthcoming book, “How To Heal The Racial Divide: What the Bible Says, and the First Christians Knew, About Racial Reconciliation.”