"There is neither Jew or Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if your Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise." ~ Galatians 3:28-29
When I married my husband his Swedish grandmother said, "Well, at least it improves the bloodline." Doesn't sound too good but I think it was a compliment. My husband has a Heinz-57 sort of ethnicity where I am fully Norwegian (ya, you betcha!). It is probably true about the Swedish/Norwegian rivalry. Gram and I would joke about it from time to time even though we secretly knew that our own ethnicity was better.
My father actually had to go to school to learn English. He told us once that as a kid they would have fun on the playground because the teacher never knew what they were saying. To his dying day he had a Norwegian accent. I used to think that I was never taught the language because mom and dad would talk in the native tongue when they didn't want us kids to know what they were talking about. That's just what I surmised but in reality, when asked, my dad said he never taught us to speak Norwegian because we were Americans.
My mother came from farther north in Minnesota than where my dad lived. So when he brought his new wife home she was an outsider. Even though she was fully Norwegian herself she didn't fit in. Mom tells the story how her new mom-in-law took her under the wing and helped mom become one of them. One lesson was going to the quilting bee. Grandma Anna told mom that if you don't stitch in the ditch to where the stitches are invisible you wouldn't be invited back. In fact, if you were a lousy stitcher the women at the quilting bee would rip out your stitches (after you left of course) and that would be a serious strike against you. My mother became an excellent stitcher. As time went on she also began to fit into the community of tight knit Norwegians. Even though the heritage was the same there were levels of acceptance.
I have been thinking about acceptance and belonging. Especially in light of all the racial tension that we see in the world. Seems like everyone has a solution to the problem. I've even seen Christian leaders get on the band wagon. But I feel like something is missing in much of the talks and the promises (not that I'm smarter than anyone else because that would be silly). There is more to the equation than laws and rules, although these are necessary because of the failure of the human heart (Matthew 15:18-19).
Where does one fit in with so many fractures even in true ethnic groups? My newest grand daughter is beautiful. Her skin is golden brown and she has black hair with the widest eyes ever. Her ethnic background goes something like this: Irish, African American, Spanish and I think a bit of German (there might even be more). Where does my beautiful Ezminna fit in to a world with so many divisions? Of course, it would be foolish to say that racism doesn't exist. Because it does. But it isn't easily confined to one group. Dan and I spent a night with a very nice couple in Idaho a couple of weeks ago and the gentleman was telling the story of the Indian tribes on the plains that, to this day, fight amongst each other, hate each other. It's not as savage as "back in the day" but the root feelings are the same.
We were asked, when in the process of adopting Lydia (ethnic background = African American and Navajo Indian), how we would raise her in her ethnicity. The first thought was if we do that we will create a child who is confused to who she is. So our response, which seemed to appease the adoption agency, was that we will train her to grow up in a world that is hostile. Not so much because of her skin color but because of the hardness of hearts and sin in the world. Training her that since the fall of Adam men's hearts are wicked unless changed by the Holy Spirit through the saving work of a Redeemer. Her survival in this world is not through any kind of ethnic cleansing like we see in the tragedies in the Middle East or the Sudan. But it comes by giving her life away to that Someone who will keep her to the end.
Even in the church there can be dividing lines. I wonder if it isn't a way of thinking that we are okay if, at least, we are better than someone else. Of course, this should not be as this is contrary to the message of the gospel. Remember the story of when Jesus was invited to the Pharisee's home? How ironic that it was the wanton woman who really ministered to Jesus by washing his feet with her tears. The Pharisee couldn't understand why Jesus would even allow such a person to touch him. Yet Jesus forgave her.
As I see it there are two types of people: those that belong to Christ and those that don't. True, there are dividing lines of race and color but in the grand scheme of things that doesn't matter when you fit into the category of belonging to Christ. It's not as much a race issue as it is a heart issue and one will never go away without the other. This is probably simplistic and naive. But even rules and regulations are broken by people who want their own way.
Today is 9/11 and on that day, in the wake of devastation there was no discussion on who to try and save based on who they were. It was Americans helping Americans because the need was great. Out of the horrific loss and nightmarish happening people came together, sacrificing life and limb for people they didn't even know. The best of humanity came out because of the desperation of the moment. The human race was suffering and the human race responded. The Lord made man for good. It is in our rebellion and selfishness that brings tension between peoples. God created ethnic groups for good. Your skin color is good and wonderful. The very hair on your head is good and numbered. At the end of time there will be a great multitude from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages that will stand before the throne of Jesus (Revelations 7:9).
Seriously, we are the same. We are the human race. What makes the human race better is Jesus and only Jesus will break down the barriers of race, social status, cliches and clubs.
"May I grow in thy love and manifest it to mankind."
~ Valley of Vision