Anna is a pastor, writer, and theologian who obtained her BA in religion in '06, Diploma of Ministry in '16, and Diploma of Divinity in '17.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
"Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
— Matthew 22:37-39
In The Beginning
Contrary to popular myth, there is quite a bit that science and religion agree on; among them is the fact that all people are of only one race—the human race. Whether you believe that life started in Eden or that it began in Africa, in the beginning there was only one race. Yes, we can take DNA tests to find out whether or not we’re ¾ Scandinavian or 2/3 Korean, but we’re all one people. Evolutionary differences that may have occurred over time involving increase or decrease of melanin where needed were adaptations for survival. Nothing more, nothing less. In His infinite wisdom, God allowed for adaptation among all living organisms. That was only one of a multitude of ways for which He provided for His children.
Unfortunately, we live in a fallen, sin-filled world. God created us as one people, but we've been creating fractures ever since. We divide ourselves into tribal camps of “us” vs. “them.” Falcons fans versus 49ers fans, southern rednecks against northern yankees, the Irish against the English. For some, life is nothing more than a competition to be won. And while the above examples are usually in good, clean, fun, we sometimes get violently carried away with our tribalism. Over-zealous sports fanatics occasionally engage in fights or property damage, occasionally erupting into full-blown riots. Southern rednecks and northern yankees fought a horrendous war, resulting in the deaths of over hundreds of thousands of brave young men and women. The Irish and English have clashed constantly for centuries, often in ways that were quite deadly; wars, skirmishes, terrorism, and even murder. This was not God’s design.
For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you invited me in.
— Matthew 25:35
God’s Plan, Undone
One of the more obvious ways that people turn against each other is skin color. It can be difficult to tell at a glance an American from a Canadian, or a Frenchman from an Englishman, but it’s very easy to tell a Nigerian from a Filipino. This is very unfortunate as it creates easy targets. In the beginning, God created life: plant life, animal life, and human life. He deemed all of that “good.” All life; plant, animal, and human life, is good in the eyes of our Creator. Let me say again: God said that the life He made is good. The Bible tells us that He was pleased with His creation.
Unfortunately, we are a fallen people, from the time of Noah onwards, tribalism was destroying what God had deemed “good.” The Egyptians enslaved the Israelites, the Moabites and Israelites fought constantly, the Babylonians held the Jews captive, the Romans ultimately defeated them and scattered them throughout the earth where they were oppressed by the Russians, the Italians, the Spanish, the English, French, and Germans, and Americans.
Of course, oppression wasn’t limited to God’s chosen people. In India, light-skinned Indians have mistreated dark skinned Indians. The Belgians exploited the Congolese. The Mongols tried their hand at world domination. Spain wrought havoc on Latin America. And frankly, during its heyday, it’s easier to list the countries that Great Britain didn’t have control over.
Stateside, we needn’t look too far to see the shame and blood that stains American soil. Our country was founded on attempted genocide of the Natives, slave labor, and discrimination against the Irish and the Chinese. Those atrocities were horrendous, but worse, for the sake of the souls of the oppressors, was the justification used for them. Many would use the Bible, God’s own Holy Word, to justify hate, discrimination, exploitation, and even murder. Have pity on their souls!
The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself.
— Leviticus 19:34
We Are All One In Christ
We are all sons and daughters of God! There is no black person or white person, we are all one race. We are one family in Christ. The Messiah who lived and died for Haitians, Salvadorians, Hondurans, and Nigerians also lived and died for the rest of us. We are not better than them nor are they better than us, we are the same. We are all siblings, sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, and the Lord of all deemed our existence “good.” God didn’t say that North Americans or Scottish were good, he said that all life was good. This is not our land, we are all foreigners. Leviticus 25:23 “the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants.” How can we claim superiority over one country if none of us own any part of any country?
Even people who aren’t Christians know that in Luke 10 Jesus told the teacher of the law that we are commanded to love and have mercy on our neighbors. (As laid out in Leviticus 19:18) Indeed, even those who aren’t Christian know that God instructed us to love foreigners and that Jesus in Matthew 5 told us to love our enemies. This isn’t some deep theological concept, this is Christianity 101. So why aren’t we doing it? Why aren’t we loving our neighbors and welcoming foreigners? Why are we greeting those who have more melanin than us with scorn and derision?
Through our nationalism, tribalism, and outright racism, we are breaking God’s law. In Eden there were no borders. God didn’t create Bolivia or Burma. He created the entire world, put us all in it—as tenants not land owners, and told us to love one another. That wasn’t a suggestion, that was a command. In God’s eyes we are all one, we were all made in His image. We are the ones who created borders. We are the ones who oppress our brothers and sisters in Christ. Galatians 3:28,29 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to His promise.”
Love One Another
God loves all of His creation, He deemed it “good,” and He commanded us to do likewise. There should be no room for sin in our hearts. There is no ambiguity. God did not say “love everybody except for the Haitians," for in the eyes of God there are no Haitians. In Leviticus and again in 1 Peter, we are instructed to be holy because God is holy. We are to strive to be like him, and the way to do that is through openness, acceptance and love. They will know we are Christians by our love.
1 John 4:7- 8, 11 "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love, does not know God, because God is love...Dear friends, since God so loved us, we ought to love one another." The Good Book is crystal clear: there is room in our hearts to love everybody. What have we sinners done to earn the love of God? Not one blessed thing, yet He loves us unconditionally. He loved us enough to die for us. All He asks in return is that we love Him back and that we love others. We are to love others as unconditionally as He loves us. Whether the person is Asian or European, Latino or North American, rich or poor, from a developed nation or a poverty-stricken country, we are still called to love them.
And just when you thought the Bible couldn't become more clear, 1 John 4 takes it even further; "We love because He first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother or sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen." (verses 19, 20)
In Luke, after Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan, He asked the teacher of the law which one was the neighbor (the Levite, priest, or hated Samaritan)? The teacher answered that it was the one who showed mercy. Jesus command “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:37) There is no ambivalence. Jesus was clear when he needed to be, if we are not showing love, mercy, and justice to all mankind then we are sinning. And if we are sinning we need to pray, repent, get our hearts right with God, and extend the olive branch of peace to our brothers and sisters.
For it is written “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so must you love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34,35) Now go! And do likewise.
© 2018 Anna Watson
Anna Watson (author) from Atlanta, GA on January 17, 2018:
I believe we very much are, Jay.
I meant to say this in the last comment, but it appears I forgot, I love your passion for pacifism. God envisioned a world of peace, and it's always a pleasure to see that displayed in His children.
Jay C OBrien from Houston, TX USA on January 17, 2018:
We seem to be in agreement. In order to further the process of moving Mankind forward, I suggest a new edition of the Bible. Please see:
Anna Watson (author) from Atlanta, GA on January 16, 2018:
Thank you, Jay
The ancient Israelites were a superstitious people, this put them on par with the surrounding cultures at the time. Another commonality was brutal violence. Mankind has come light years away from where we once were, thank God!
In their superstition, they believed that anything that happened; good, bad, or otherwise, was directly from God Himself. If they were attacked, it was because God punished them, if they were victorious, it was because God rewarded them. (I see a tragic parrellel with that mentality and the state of Israel over the last sixty years or so.)
That was their understanding, their superstition. They weren't unique in that regard. I believe as you do, that God never condoned violence. The Moabites (for example) were made in God's image just like the Israelites were. There is no such thing as a holy war. By its very nature, war is unholy. But our modern day opinions aren't exactly going to sway the opinion of a people who were conquered and scattered nearly 2,000 years ago. As with all other cultures, we can learn from them, even if we don't believe exactly as they do. We've evolved past their superstitions, but that doesn't make their culture worthless. To paraphrase Mark Twain; we want to only take the the intended lesson from an experience and stop there. Otherwise we'll be like the cat who sat on a hot stove. He may never sit on a hot stove again, and that's good, but he won't sit on a cold one either.
I won't defend any violence by the ancient Israelite's, but there is still so much else that we can learn from their history.
Jay C OBrien from Houston, TX USA on January 15, 2018:
To me, and I am only speaking for myself, the ancient Israelites committed a holocaust which was never directed by God. Hebrew "scripture" is Propaganda written by Rabbis. God has never commanded or condoned violence. The Lord never fought for Israel or anyone else.
Renounce the propaganda and accept what Jesus taught about God: Love one another, Love your enemy, Forgive, etc. Progress in your belief system.
Anna Watson (author) from Atlanta, GA on January 15, 2018:
Thank you for your insight.
God chose Israel because of the promise made to Abraham. Through Abraham, came Jesus who died for the sins of all mankind. To me, and I am only speaking for myself, the ancient Israelites will always have a special place for me because of this. When I refer to the Jews as 'God's chosen' as I so often do, it's because they were chosen to be the elect through which the Messiah came, not because God plays favorites. I agree with your point. We are all chosen, through Christ, who died for us all. The God who created all mankind doesn't see nationalities, He sees people.
War will never be holy, it is an insult to man and God alike. I believe that throughout history God may have used war, but that is not because He condones it. It's because in His power, He has the capability and flexibility to work from Satan's wickedness. I write often of violence, but only as a fact of life. I will never abide by violence of any kind.
Jay C OBrien from Houston, TX USA on January 15, 2018:
This is a great article and I commend you on it. From article:
"Of course, oppression wasn’t limited to God’s chosen people."
Let us renounce the idea of a, "chosen people" as God does not place one group of people over another.
Let us renounce the idea that God works through violence. The Lord did Not fight for Israel or anyone else.
Let us renounce the idea of a Holy Land as land is not alive. People are alive and may be more or less holy. Do not fight over land.