By Ms. Marilynn Knott (Retired Commissioned Minister)
Chair, Commission on Faith in Action
Member, Crown Heights Christian Church, OKC
Race as a descriptor of human types is a relatively recent addition to history, first appearing around the 17th century CE. Tribalism was the predominant difference during the centuries covered in the Bible. Both provided fodder for discrimination. We deal with both racism and tribalism today. While our indigenous tribes have felt the sting of bigotry since the arrival of others to what was described at the time as the New World, we now seem as a people to be developing groupings based on privilege.
An elderly white female being interviewed after voting recently said she voted for a certain candidate because she represented the woman’s culture. She apparently did not take into consideration the candidate’s positions on the issues. Fear of losing our identity to diversity is a very real challenge in our world today as it was in Jesus’ time.
For our prayer experience this week we invite you to spend some time meditating on how Jesus dealt with peoples of different cultures and backgrounds. One way to do this is to read the story shared in scripture and then re-enact it in your mind, putting yourself in the various roles of the participants ending each time in the role of Jesus. Will you be modeling Jesus?
For example, read the story of Jesus and the Syrophoenician Woman found in Mark 7:24-30. Sit back and relax in a quiet place, close your eyes and image yourself in the story as the Syrophoenician Woman.
- What does that feel like?
- What do you think of this man you have challenged?
- Why did you have enough nerve to talk to him in the first place?
Now replay the scene and see yourself as one of the disciples.
- What are you thinking?
- What are you learning about Jesus?
- About people from other tribes?
Finally, try to take on the persona of Jesus. See the woman as he sees her. What do you think he sees that his disciples do not see? That we do not see?
Now try some others. How about Jesus meeting with the Roman Centurion in Matthew 8:5-16 or Simon of Cyrene carrying Jesus’ cross in Mark 15 or Jesus’ interaction with the Gerasene demoniac in Mark 5:1-20 and Luke 8:26-39.
What common themes occurred in each situation? What surprised you? What are some of the things from Jesus’ behavior can you adopt to help you love your diverse neighbors more successfully?