“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” —Revelation 7: 9-17
My former Pastor Rev. Alvin Jackson used to preach with his booming southern voice “there is divinity in difference.” As we read the passage above from The Book of Revelation we see that people from every nation, language and tribe are united in worshipping God but we see that these people still retain their own tribe and their own language even in God’s Kingdom. Racial justice is important to God and should be important to us as people of faith. There are those who wish for a homogenous America, but as people of faith, justice should be our diverse unity and is God’s ultimate will for humanity. There is divinity in difference because when we can unite in our difference we can truly give glory to God. When we allow racism and nativism to reign in our hearts we cut ourselves off from our neighbor and thus we cut ourselves off from the Spirit of God.
When we leave our worship services and go into a world where, according to research from Villanova University, dark skinned girls of any race are three times as likely to be suspended as lighter skinned girls for the same infractions, we are allowing the sin of racism to reign. When we discriminate against immigrants of color we are in violation of the Bible’s commandment in Exodus to welcome the stranger. When we desire a society where Whiteness is elevated, we dishonor the divinity in God’s creation. Racial justice should be important to people of faith because God’s Kingdom will be one of diversity and equity. Right now our country stands at a crossroads where some want to go back to divisions and yet God’s Word calls us to unity while allowing us to glorify him in our own language. Right now as people of faith we have to ask ourselves if allowing racism to reign even in our Churches is God’s best for us. Right now we have Muslim brothers and sisters who face violence, Black and Jewish houses of worship being desecrated by hate crimes and yet, our Bibles say in Revelation that at the end diverse saints will worship God together. We must seek racial justice and protect our neighbor whether he or she is an immigrant, Muslim or formerly incarcerated in spite of the rulers and powers that want us to be divided. Unity not uniformity is God’s will for us.
Onleilove Alston is the Executive Director of Faith in NY a multi faith and multi race federation of congregations working to Build the Beloved City and Founder of Prophetic Whirlwind Uncovering the Black Biblical Destiny. She worships at Beth-El House of Yahweh.
LET US PRAY
Most High, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart
and give me true faith,
certain hope and perfect charity,
sense and knowledge, Lord,
that I may carry out
Your holy and true command. Amen
Lord, we pray for the power to be gentle;
the strength to be forgiving;
the patience to be understanding;
and the endurance to accept the consequences
of holding to what we believe to be right.
May we put our trust in the power of good
to overcome evil and the power of love to overcome hatred.
We pray for the vision to see
and the faith to believe in a world emancipated from violence,
a new world where fear shall no longer lead human beings to commit injustice,
nor selfishness make them bring suffering to others.
Help us to devote our whole life and thought and energy
to the task of making peace,
praying always for the inspiration and the power
to fulfill the destiny for which we and your entire creation were created. Amen
Hail Mary …
Our Father …
Glory be …