Years ago I had the privilege of hearing creationist and apologetics scholar Ken Ham speak at a conference I attended. Racial and ethnic tensions were frequently in national headlines, much as they are today. I remember Ham making the point that God created man, including the fairest of the fair-haired, some lighter than others. He created the Native American Indian who we for some reason used to refer to as “red” men, some “redder” than others. He created those from South America, from China, Japan and Indonesia, from the islands and from the Arctic, from Latin America, from Africa, Europe and the Middle East. He even made people from Australia (he’s from there – love his accent).
“It would not be difficult,” I remember him saying, “in a crowd this size to find enough people to form across this stage a line of 50 to 100 people, a viual spectrum of skin color including the red, brown, yellow, black and white we sing about in Sunday School.” He went on to say that once on the stage side by side, it would be difficult, if not impossible to tell exactly where one color ends and the next begins. Helping us picture it in our mind’s eye he slowly walked from stage right to stage left, describing the even sweep of the spectrum from the darkest skin color through the lightest and palest we could imagine.
Then turning and looking us in they eye -if you can look hundreds people in the eye all at once- he said, and I’ll never forget it:
“God sees no lines when He looks at those He created, those He loves. When you look at mankind and see a line of racial and ethnic distinction, remember. A person drew that line – not God.”
I came to the conclusion not long after, that I would do well to apply that same insight to other areas of life and ministry. It wasn’t easy at first, I have strong views and convictions and I’d like to think they’re based on serious study and a prayerful attitude. Disctinctions, categories, even labels help us sort through things. Most of the lines, though, are drawn by men.
- What denomination do you prefer, if any?
- What music do you appreciate on Sunday mornings?
- What version of the Bible to you prefer?
- What are you? D ? I ? S ? C ?
- What temperament are you? What temperament is that person that drives you nuts?
- Was Calvin 100% right? 80% ? 60% ? Less?
- What organizational structure serves your church best?
- What do you think will happen next in God’s Master-plan?
The lines we see when we look at the world around us and the things that make discussion over coffee potentially divisive are frequently man-drawn lines of demarcation. It’s not that they’re unimportant, they are, it’s just that we need to remember: What God wants to know is “Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ?”
It’s good to know what you believe – and why.
It’s good to discuss what you’re learning with others – just don’t argue or let the discussion turn petty.
If categories and systems and pigeon-holes help you make sense of this complicated thing we call “life” feel free. Just remember, you’re the one drawing the lines.
There is neither jew nor Greek,
there is neither slave nor free man,
there is neiher male nor female,
for you are all one in Christ. [ Galatians 3.28 ]
it’s likely you’ll see and hear quite a bit today in discussions at work, on the news, at the gym, on campus.
Just keep asking yourself, “Who drew the line?”