What Paul might have said about racism (1 Cor 12 Updated)

“When your first allegiance is to a king and a kingdom…the meaning of ‘brother’ gets extended to the most unlikely people.” –Caleb Hutcherson

Here’s a powerful truth: the Christian standing to salute the flag has more in common with the Christian kneeling in protest than he does with the non Christian standing at attention next to him. Similarly, my friend Brian recently pointed out that the biblical metaphor of “many parts, one body” should be applied to the issue of racism. Combining the two, I was dumbstruck at what we might see if we read 1 Corinthians 12 through the lens of today’s context.

It might look something like this:

1 Corinthians 12:

If any of us are discriminated against, we all suffer; if one part is privileged, we all benefit.

The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.  For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether black or white, minority or majority—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Now if the person of color should say, “I am not part of the body because I am not a white evangelical,” that does not make him any less a part of the body.  And if the Black Lives Matter activist should say, “I am not part of the body because I am an agitator,” that does not make her any less a part of the body.

If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear?? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? Or, if the whole body were white, where would the diversity be? But our bodies have many parts and colors, and God has put each just where he wants it.

How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body.

The white Christian majority cannot say to minorities, “I can’t hear you!” And those who stand for the anthem cannot say to those who kneel, “I won’t listen to you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that we consider the least important are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with greater honor. We go out of our way to affirm and protect the parts that are discriminated against, while the majority needs no special treatment.

So God has put the body together so that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other.

If one part is discriminated against, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is privileged, every part benefits with it.

About Tim Owens

I'm a husband, father, and Christ follower. I also live in Albany, NY, where I work as a pastor.
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