In all of this talk about supremacy: I want to be very clear. Christians believe in supremacy. In fact, Christians believe in exclusive absolute supremacy. Shocked? But I'm not talking about purple supremacy or green supremacy, black supremacy or white supremacy.
For the Christian, the conversation about supremacy begins and ends with Jesus. We believe in the supremacy of Christ–alone. Colossians 1 tells us:
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Only from this posture, we can comprehend our standing. Because in relationship to Jesus, every person of every race, nationality and ethnicity stands on equal footing.
We all stand on equal footing at creation
We are all created in the image of God. In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the Bible says in Genesis 1,
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
What color were Adam and Eve? We have no idea. What we know is only what the Bible tells us about them: they are His image bearers, male and female. So, while we are not God nor gods, we are like God constitutionally and functionally.
It is from this reality of our equality as Created beings, neither angels nor beasts, but human, that we stand with equally inherent value and dignity as image bearers of God. We are equal in our Imago Dei quality and it is inscribed by God Himself. To deny the equality of another person — for any reason — is to deny God as Creator and the beauty, truth and goodness of what He hath made.
We all stand on equal footing at the cross
It is often noted that the ground at the foot of the cross is level ground. Every human being stands on equal footing as sinners in need of salvation. We are all sinners — indeed we all fall short of the glory of God. And, importantly — we are all offered the same opportunity of a restored relationship with the Father through the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 3:23 levels the playing field in every way that matters: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." There is no equivocation there. All is all. We all need redeeming. We all need Jesus.
(We all also stand on equal footing before the judgment seat of God but those who are in Christ stand there not in their sin, but in Christ. Which is the only way to stand before the holiness of God!)
All believers stand on equal footing in the Kingdom of Heaven
All those who are redeemed in Christ are going to stand on equal footing in the Kingdom of Heaven.
God bears testimony and witness in his Word that the Kingdom of Heaven will include people of every tribe, nation, and tongue. Some of those folks do not share your current pigmentation, whatever pigment your current flesh may be. Those who are in Christ will be spending eternity with people of every color — and bear witness to that Kingdom reality here and now amidst the kingdoms of this world.
So, existentially, we are equal in every way with everyone else at creation, at the cross, and in the Kingdom. But we live here, in the midst of confused people in a broken world.
In our sin-infected reality, people are both race obsessed and simultaneously blind to their own racism and racist systems. As Christians, we cannot only proclaim the reality of equality with people of every race, we have to embody it in our personal relationships and in the household of God, the church. It is negatively notable that Sunday mornings are still the most segregated time of the week. Why is that? And if the answer is "cultural preferences," then shame on us for desiring to preserve some racially divided cultural preference over a preference for the culture of the Kingdom of God we are on earth to demonstrate.
Unsurprisingly, there is only one answer to this problem. Jesus and the Cross. It is in Christ that every dividing wall between us is brought low. It is in Jesus that we are made one new man. It is in Jesus that we become children of God, sharing not only one faith and one hope, but one God and Father of us all who is in all and through all. It is in Jesus that we share one blood, one baptism, one Spirit and one inheritance. It is in Jesus that we become actual brothers and sisters here and into eternity.
What we need in America is not more talk about what makes us different but who makes us the same. What's broken in the heart and mind of James Alex Fields, Jr., is not going to be fixed by the government nor a lifetime in prison. But the day may come when James Alex Fields and Dylan Roof and every other white supremacist comes to Jesus and confesses their sin and turns from their wicked ways. Will we be ready to receive them as brothers redeemed by the same blood shed on the cross for us?
The only possible way of fixing what's broken in and among us is that Jesus would actually make of us one new man as Paul describes in the Book of Ephesians. Who else but Jesus could take the Jewish Pharisee Paul, the Greek slave-owner Philemon and the runaway slave Onesimus and redeem each of them in a way that makes all of them genuinely brothers in Christ? I can't do that. You can't do that. Government can't do that. Corporate sensitivity training can't do that. Jesus can do that.
How? One transformed heart and right mind and redeemed life at a time — until all the world knows that Jesus Christ, alone, reigns supreme.
Kingdom people — who know where they've come from, where they're going and why they're here — see and engage and live in the world differently. That means that God can use you today as a minister of reconciliation bearing witness to the reality of the Kingdom of God even in these most difficult of cultural conversations.