All One in Christ
In Genesis 11 we read that the whole earth spoke the same language. Apparently they were all gathered in one place, for we are told they decided to build a tower to heaven. This isn’t the first time humankind tried to invade God’s space. Eve was tempted by the serpent to eat of the forbidden fruit so she could “be like God.” We know the end of that story.
The builders must have been making great progress because we are told God was concerned about the potential success of their project. God’s solution was to “confuse their language” so they couldn’t communicate with each other. Our minds can picture how that would have sounded. Two people arguing over which stone should be placed next, or how to go about starting the next level, each one having no idea what the other was saying. All this compounded many times over.
This story is put forward as an explanation for the wide variety of languages and peoples in the world. It may serve to explain the multiplicity of languages, but does nothing to account for the varieties in racial characteristics: skin color, facial shape, size, hair color, eye color—all the things that make us physically different from each other based on our racial heritage. For these, science provides better answers.
Whatever the origins of our racial differences, they have created serious conflicts. Whenever we encounter someone different from us our tendency is to dwell on the differences, making mountains out of what should be molehills. Why do I say molehills? Across the entire human race, our DNA is 99.9% the same. That means all of the differences among us amount to .1% of the total DNA of all people. Seems like an infinitesimal amount to fight about, yet fight about it we do—over, and over, and over.
If we truly believe we are all children of God, we have one more reason—the best possible reason—not to dwell on differences. Yet we have had to learn the lesson far too many times over the course of human history.
Christians believe the heart of the gospel is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” The first phrase says that God loved the whole world. These words taken seriously, and the 99.9% DNA similarity should bind us together so tightly that we have no room to think about the very slight differences.
Peter learned this lesson in his encounter with Cornelius. After seeing a vision of God’s care for all humanity, Peter says, “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality.” (Acts 10:34) For a Jew brought up to divide the world into clean and unclean, this was a major revelation.
Paul learned the same lesson, and passed it on to the Galatians: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
Christians believe history will culminate with the return of Jesus Christ, when all will be gathered together. Until that time, the words of Mohamed ElBaradei, diplomat and Nobel laureate might help us place our humanity in perspective.
“The ultimate sense of security will be when we come to recognize that we are all part of one human race. Our primary allegiance is to the human race and not to one particular color or border. I think the sooner we renounce the sanctity of these many identities and try to identify ourselves with the human race the sooner we will get a better world and a safer world.”