Have you heard that phrase? “We should be colorblind!” People suggest, when it comes to ethnicity, being colorblind is what is desirable. Just see the person, not their skin color, right? It sounds good, but I have three colorblind sons, each with varying degrees of colorblindness, and I can tell you that visual colorblindness means that something is not as it should be, and the same goes for colorblindness toward ethnicity. My boys’ colorblindness is manageable, but from time to time they need help identifying a shade of color. In the same way, we humans do have different appearances. It seems to me that the heart behind the colorblindness movement is good. If I understand it right, colorblindness expresses a desire to see the person and not their outward appearance. God himself says that “man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) So isn’t God saying that he is colorblind, and being colorblind is correct? Yes, and no. As we’ll see, to pursue unity, especially unity in the church, we should not ignore human diversity. Instead, we should be a purple church!
This week on the blog we pause our current series studying Ezekiel so that we can focus on a current event: Why we are a purple church. Purple church? What does that mean? If you didn’t read the first post in the series, I urge you to pause reading this post, and start here. Then return to this post and keep reading.
How does the New Testament describe a purple church? Turn to Galatians 3 and read verses 26-29.
There Paul writes, “You are all sons and daughters of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Being a son and daughter of God is an astounding thought! We’re a part of the family of God. This is one reason why we call ourselves a church family. But we need to remember that God’s family is international. It is diverse. It cannot be contained by a local church or denomination, and it cannot be contained by an political party. The family of God is all those who have faith in Christ Jesus.
Next in verse 27, Paul says that baptism is the symbol of entrance into the family. When we are baptized, it’s a symbol of new birth. The old you goes under the water, just like Jesus died, and the new you comes up out of the water, just like Jesus rose again. Rebirth, new life, resurrection. It’s all there in the symbol of baptism, and it means that you have entered a new family…God’s family.
Additionally, when you enter God’s family, he gives you new clothes. Look at verse 27 again. We are clothed with Christ. We are not given Jesus’ clothes. We are given Jesus himself! This happens through the gift of the Holy Spirit living with us.
Look over these verses again and look for the repeated words in each verse. Did you see “Christ” or “Christ Jesus” repeated. The other repeated word? “All” Paul’s point is to say that all who believe are now sons and daughters of the king. All who are baptized are baptized into Christ, and all receive Christ as their clothing.
Then he says in verse 28, all are one in Christ Jesus, which is his main point.
It does not matter if you are Jewish or Greek, he says. In other words, your ethnicity doesn’t matter. All ethnicities are equally valued in God’s eyes. God loves all the same. Interestingly, the human genome project, 25 years ago proved this from a scientific perspective. Race, from a DNA perspective, is false, a construct. There is no such thing as race. Humans are humans, biologically-speaking. We have the same blood, the same DNA, as any person from any ethnicity.
But maybe Paul, in writing that there is neither Jew nor Greek, means that God wants us to colorblind, to ignore ethnicity? Let me answer that question with an unmitigated, NO!
Because that is how God made us, we need to see the varieties of human appearance as good. We should not be colorblind, as if the differences don’t exist. Race doesn’t exist, but ethnicity does. There is one human race, but ethnic variations in skin color, hair, height, build, eyes, and all of it is a beautiful thing. We celebrate our ethnic differences not by ignoring them, but by pointing out that God made each and every one. It was his artistic design, all made in his image.
So am I saying that Paul is wrong here? No, the key point Paul makes when he says that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek is that we’re all equally loved and valued in God’s eyes, no matter how different we look! A purple church celebrates and includes diversity.