Romans 10:12-13 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (NRSV)
In Paul’s day, the racial divide was between Jews and Greeks. Both groups looked down their noses at the other. “Greeks” referred not so much ethnic Greeks, but was more often used as shorthand for any non-Jew. Jews felt superior to the non-Jews and looked down on any gentile. Jews were the chosen people. The others were not. Greek culture favored philosophy and rational thought and considered the Jews backward superstitious simpletons.
Paul was trained as a Pharisee, a Jewish superiority group if there ever was one. For Paul to write these words would have been shocking to his former tribe. Paul is being very bold here, to write this to the faithful in Rome, of all people, of all places, especially since they are a people he has not met and wants something from. In Paul’s time, the Christ followers were still officially part of the Jewish faithful, but by Paul’s writings, the division was getting clearer and clearer. A separation from the tradition was coming for the people of The Way, as they called themselves, but it had not occurred yet. These two sentences might just have been the catalyst that made it inevitable.
Paul recognized that God has no partiality… no favorites among his people, the part of his creation God has a special relationship with. God is God for all people. Period.
Paul would be so sad to know that after all these years racism still exists. And he would be rolling over in his grave if he knew that racism exists among Christians. There is no place for race favoritism among the people of God. There is no place in the Kingdom of God for the injustices of a society where prejudice and hate are given legitimacy.
Today white superiority groups are marching in Charlottesville, Virginia as a show of power. They are emboldened by the current political situation in our nation. It pains me a great deal to know that many Christians side with and support, and are members of these kinds of groups. Let me go on record to say, JESUS WOULD NOT BE PART OF ONE OF THESE GROUPS AND NEITHER SHOULD ANYONE WHO CLAIMS TO FOLLOW HIM. The Conference of Bishops, the group made up of the 65 bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) that provides guidance and direction to the denomination has written a prayer, released yesterday by the chair of the conference, The Rev. William O. Gafkjen, bishop of the Indiana-Kentucky Synod.
Please join them and me in prayer.
Just and merciful God, we give you thanks for our sisters and brothers – bishops, pastors, deacons, people of God – who this Saturday [today] walk the way of the cross in Charlottesville, Va. On this day and in that place, they join other courageous and faithful people across time and space to stand against bigotry, hatred and violence; to stand with those who are intended victims; and to stand for justice and mercy, peace and equality for all people.
We stand with them in prayer, asking you to empower them, protect them, and use their witness as a hopeful sign of your resurrection reign afoot in your beloved and troubled world. By your might, break the bondage that bigotry, hatred and violence impose on their victims and their perpetrators. May your kingdom come on earth as in heaven. And, we pray, empower us in our own communities to follow their lead as fellow servants to your dream of a community in which all people and their gifts are welcomed and honored, cherished and celebrated as beloved children of a just, merciful and loving God; through Jesus Christ crucified and risen for the life of the world. Amen
blessings to you,
Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.