There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. — Galatians 3:28
August 7, 2020
When we hold prejudices against another person because of their race, color or national origin, it is a sin against God and against our fellow human beings.
In the first century, there was a great deal of racial and religious prejudice between Jews and Samaritans. John explains the relationship between the two groups simply: “For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans” (John 4:9b).
Jesus was Jewish, and he surprised and upset his fellow Jews by breaking down the barriers between Jews and Samaritans.
In Luke 17:11-19, Jesus shared God’s grace by healing ten Samaritan lepers outside a Samaritan village.
In John 4:7-42, Jesus did the unthinkable by having a long conversation with a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. Jesus forgave her for her shortcomings and as a result, “many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony” (John 4:39).
In Luke 10:29-37, Jesus told a story about a Jewish man beaten and robbed on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. While a Jewish Priest and Levite ignored the beaten man’s needs, a compassionate Samaritan bound up his wounds and took him to an inn in Jericho, where he paid for the Jewish man’s room, board and care. Jesus commanded his followers to “go and do likewise.”
Jesus saw the racial prejudice in his time as a sin against God’s will and a sin against sisters and brothers with a different racial heritage than his own.
Today, Jesus still calls us to acknowledge our prejudices towards persons who have a different heritage than ours, repent of our sins, accept God’s forgiveness, and seek to lead a new life free from prejudice.
Our first step is to acknowledge our own often unexamined racial and cultural prejudices.
At United Theological Seminary, we are seeking to do this by having our executive team and faculty take part in a faith-based assessment in October to provide insights into our Cultural Intelligence and Cultural Values. Doctor of Ministry students and mentors will also participate in this training ahead of the January 2021 doctoral intensive. We hope to use this tool with all staff and masters’ students at a later date.
Our goal is to offer an opportunity for personal examination and provide an avenue to confess individual and corporate prejudices against other children of God. Recognizing these biases provides a starting point from which we can move towards genuine justice and peace in our world.
Dr. Mark DeYmaz from Little Rock, Arkansas, is co-founder and president of the Mosaix Global Network, an organization that develops healthy multiethnic congregations of all denominations around the world and administers the CQ (Cultural Intelligence) Pro Faith-Based assessment tool. Dr. DeYmaz also pastors a multiethnic congregation and mentors other pastors and leaders who want to develop genuinely multiethnic congregations.
Dr. DeYmaz and his team of Rev. Chip Freed, pastor at Garfield Memorial Church, a multiethnic congregation in Cleveland, Ohio, and Ms. Oneya Okuwobi, a founding elder of 21st Century Church, a multiethnic congregation in Cincinnati, Ohio, will lead our Doctor of Ministry intensive on January 25-29, 2021. Dr. DeYmaz and Rev. Freed will also lead a new Doctor of Ministry focus group for pastors called to lead healthy multiethnic and economically diverse congregations. Information about the new group, launching in January 2021, is available on our website at united.edu/disruptive-church-leadership.
Our prayer is that as the United community examines and confesses our own prejudices, we can make positive steps towards preparing faithful and fruitful Christian leaders who can lead, serve and love all of their neighbors.
As Paul writes in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
May all of us practice the radical love of Jesus Christ regardless of race, color or origin.
Grace and peace,
Dr. Kent Millard
United Theological Seminary