chris­t­ian cul­ture racism

Subsume your cultural identity to your relationship with God.

How Culture Forms Identity

Very often people divide themselves along cultural lines. It usually works like this: First I realize that I am born into a particular culture. That means I do things like this, like that and not like that. This culture, as we have discussed before, is my wall. This culture helps to define my identity. To further cement this identity, I find other people who think like me and act like me and I form a community with them. They essentially become, in a sense, my church. Every culture comes with a mentality or approach to engaging the world because of how they see themselves in it. Some cultures, have through a lot of oppression from other cultures, acquired an “us against the world” mentality. This mentality is a part of their cultural identity. Some cultures through oppression of other cultures have acquired a mentality of superiority.

What then does this mean for a Christian who is also a part of a culture? For example, what does it mean to be a Christian who is also Yoruba? Or a Christian athlete? Or a Christian artist and so on and so on? Athletes generally have to behave one way and sometimes their Christianity may conflict with their behavior in the athlete culture. The same goes for scientists and artists and so on. As you can see, there appears to be a conflict. Is it true then that you have to choose your Christianity or your culture?

Christian > Culture

There is a conflict between my relationship with God and all other things that strive to be the root of my identity. But it is not a zero sum game where God wins and your culture has to go and vice versa. Instead, it is a lordship, king of the hill kind of game. It is not that I must choose to be a Christian or an athlete. It is that I must choose to be a Christian first before I choose to be anything else. My relationship with God always has to come first. Let us remember that all cultures, ideologies and other sources of identity not submitted to God will fail. When they fail, the person who has founded his identity on these things will be swept away Matt 7:26-27. He will lose his or her identity.

If you are a Christian and you are striving to make your relationship with God the source of your identity then submission to God is your central goal John 14:15. This means that God is your center. This means that every other role or culture contributes to your identity only to help cement your relationship with God. It also means that if any part of your culture contradicts your relationship with God, then you either have to find a compromise that keeps God as Lord or leave that part of your culture completely behind.

How It Can Play Out

[[]]Consider if a black Christian met a white Christian. They’re both believers in the Lord but there is a history of overt and subtle oppression between their two cultures. Yet they are both first and foremost Christian. What does this mean? Well God orders us to bear one another’s burdens, to mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice Gal 6:2, Rom 12:15, Col 3:13. If God is my Lord, then I as a white Christian, because I want to maintain my relationship with God, will seek to feel the pain of my black brother and recognize the unjust disparity between how the world treats us. If God is my Lord, then I as his black brother will strive to constantly and patiently forgive my brother for any misconceptions he has while guiding him into a greater understanding of who I am in Jesus. It means that I as a white Christian will not be angry when my black brother makes assumptions about my nature because of my skin color. It means that I as his black brother will strive to trust him by opening up my heart and home to him.

Through patience and love, both will reaffirm to each other that they are new creatures in Christ 2 Cor 5:16-18. They are not black or white. They are Christians before they are a part of any culture. Note that this doesn’t mean a black Christian gives up black culture or a white Christian gives up white culture. But it does mean that both the black Christian and the white Christian bring their culture into submission to their relationship with Jesus Christ. They will therefore, put to death any part of their culture that does not honor Christ and make servants of those parts of their culture that do (honor Christ).

After all, the most important thing is not to be white or to be black but to be Christian through relationship with God Luke 10:20,42. Because Paul was Christian first and Jew second, he was able to reach out with the love of the gospel to many people Rom 1:16, 10:12, 1 Cor 9:20-22 including masters and slaves Philemon 9-10, 15-17. We should all strive to do the same. Watch below to hear someone who says all this better.

“But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowl­edge.”
- 1 John 2:20

Wanna reach out and ask me some ques­tions? Or do you want clar­i­fi­ca­tion on some­thing writ­ten here? If so, write me a let­ter. I’d love to hear from you and I’ll respond. I bet your hon­est ques­tion will pro­duce insights that will ben­e­fit other read­ers.