Monday, April 16, 2012

Ecclesiastical Racism

For when one says, “I am of Paul, ” and another, “I am of Apollos, ” are you not mere men?
-1 Corinthians 3:4 (NASB)

Racism  (according to my iPad dictionary) is defined as the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.  Genocidal Nazi Germany is commonly used as a popular example, but one could cite many others less well known.  Closer to home one usually thinks of black verses white.  Regardless of its form, racism as we know it is an affront to our Creator.  Racism represents a failure to acknowledge God-designed diversity among all peoples.  Racism also represents a superiority complex.  Above all, racism is an expression of hate.  There is a similar racism-like cancer within the church, only it involves differences inside the head rather than differences on the skin.

It is of great significance that Christ sent out many Apostles.  After all, He could have just sent one super-apostle to spread His word, yet we know this was not the case.  The apostle Paul sheds some light on the subject: "
What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.  I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.  So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.  Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor." -1 Corinthians 3:5-8 (NASB)

The point Paul was trying make to the Corinthians was that the Kingdom of Christ consisted of a team.  And like any team, diversity is key; each player plays his part.  The Kingdom would not and could not be advanced by one player alone.  There is no superman or spiderman in God's scheme.  There is no super denomination, super movement, or  Everything at best is just a part, one little piece of the mega-jigsaw puzzle called The Kingdom of Christ.  Nevertheless, ecclesiastical racism was a prominent reality in the early church, just like it is a prominent reality in the church of our day.  "I'm Reformed," "I'm Non-denominational," "I'm Organic," "I'm The True Catholic Church".  Only the names have changed.  Each player sees his ministry or organization as superior to the rest.  May God help us to realize that nobody understands it all.  Nobody has it all figured out.  Nobody is superior to anyone else.  Nobody and no organization.  Take it from an apostle: "For we know in part and we prophesy in part..." -1 Corinthians 13:9 (NASB)

May the Lord help us to see the complexity of His Body, the Church, and learn to value and respect the part that everyone plays.  May the Lord deliver us from ecclesiastical racism.