“He’s just ghetto.” “That’s some white people stuff.” “That’s why I don’t mess with people from there.”
In other words, you are this and I am that. You are inferior and I am superior. Your community is tripping while mine is innocent. Your people need to get their act together while my people can do no wrong. Tribalism.
Speaking of tribalism, Numbers 2. The Israelites are literally divided into tribes, so we know this isn’t a new concept, especially since Numbers 2 explains that the Israelites literally slept, traveled, and camped as tribes. Your people over here and mine over there. Your people head out after my people (verses 9, 16, 24, 31). My people are the majority and yours are the minority. It sounds harsh and unnecessary. Why were they like that? And what does it have to do with why we’re like this?
The Treasures Within:
My Family, My Tribe
We’re prone to this kind of separation. Drawing lines between this group and that. It’s how we feel safe. Here’s my people over here. They understand me. They won’t hurt me – unlike those people over there, who may call me the n-word or who will appropriate my culture without blinking an eye. I’m staying over here while they stay over there.
As Christians, we’re supposed to trumpet the opposite. “Love each other!” “Come together!” “There’s no race but the human race.” “I don’t see color.” “I’m literally colorblind.”
You may be ‘colorblind’, but God never was. God recognized and celebrated the differences between His people. Even He recognized that one person belonged to this tribe while another belonged to that one. It wasn’t a bad thing.
Maybe it was even a symbol. From the time of the Israelites through the time when Jesus chose His twelve disciples, right down to the 12 gates in the kingdom of heaven, God’s people have been represented as tribes. I like to think that it symbolizes God’s acceptance of all people, everywhere. Everyone has a place to belong in His family. Everyone there feels fully seen, fully understood, and fully safe.
And that’s the beauty of it, because within our differences and our uniqueness is an undeniable unity in Christ: we’re all searching for the same thing – love. We all want to head to the same place – heaven.
But will we get there? While so many Christians claim to be colorblind and anti-racism, a quick peek inside of their churches will tell a different story. White churches vs. black churches. Good, sainted, holy hymns vs. evil, barbaric, African-inspired drums. Regional conferences vs. state conferences.
There’s a fine line between celebrating each other’s differences and shunning each other because of those differences.
One closely mirrors the community we’ll join in heaven. The other is what we’re still somehow doing in 2019. One brings us closer to the heart of our Creator. The other will not be allowed in His kingdom.
There were twelve Israelite tribes. But it was one nation that conquered God’s enemies. It was one nation that went into captivity. It was one nation that was delivered and then visited by God’s Son.
So like the Israelites, let’s practice our dual citizenship. We are black or white or Latinx or Ethiopian or immigrants or a thousand other things – and that’s beautiful. We are also God’s – and that brings us together.
God’s Message To Us:
“I created you different and I created you Mine.” I imagine God lovingly crafting each of us. Giving one person deep chocolate skin and full, beautiful lips. Giving another fair skin, freckles, and bright blue eyes. He placed one person in wide, open rural spaces. Another He placed in a busy, bustling city. Our different experiences and different cultures make us who we are. Our individual stories, personalities, and backgrounds make each of us a unique witness to who God is and why He’s important in our lives. I think that was God’s plan.
So let’s declare it and make a change:
If we truly love God, we don’t turn up our noses at “black music” or “white people nonsense”. We don’t separate our churches or disrespect another person’s culture. We don’t disregard each other’s experiences. If we truly follow God, we worship together, serve together, and make disciples together – different, but His.
What do you think? How should Christians see color and race? How do you think God sees race and ethnicity? Comment below your thoughts and share this to hear your friends’ thoughts!
One thought on “Tribe vs. Tribe (Numbers 2)”
I love how you brought out that God is not color blind, that God celebrates the differences in us. And what brings each tribe together is the fact that we all belong to God.