The Bible says that God made all nations from one blood. This tells me that He intended that humankind would be a people that were spiritually connected despite their cosmetic variations. This speaks directly to the call in 2 Corinthians 5 for people to be reconnected (or reconciled) to both God and their fellow man. … We know just from looking at God’s creation that He delights in diversity, even as that diversity is rooted in common traits. Did you know, for example, that there are more than 31,000 species of fish? They make up endless varieties of colors, shapes and behaviors, yet they are all fish. There’s a reason why God did it this way. I believe He loves to showcase unity amid diversity.
– p. 46
I had never heard of John Perkins before receiving an email from Moody Publishers offering me an advance copy of this book in exchange for a review. As I read the synopsis, I knew that this would be an important read, and so accepted the offer without any hesitation. Over the last couple of years I have become more and more invested in the issue of racial reconciliation, despite (or perhaps because of) living in a relatively ethnically homogeneous area. I want to, somehow, do my part to foster peace, understanding and forward-movement, yet I’ve been at a loss as to how to contribute.
Perkins subtitled his book “parting words to the church on race.” The man is pushing 90, so he knows his time is short. Thus, there is an urgency to his words. There is no pandering to anyone. Perkins pleads with his readers, black, white and every other skin shade under the sun, to understand that racial barriers are false. Man-made. Slipped into the historical narrative as a way of justifying unjustifiable prejudice and hatred. We are all truly one people, one blood.
The church has failed to preach and practice this reality. We have, to our shame, turned away from working for social justice, derisively labeling that those who do engage in that work “cultural Marxists.” We have separated the message of the Gospel from the act of caring for our fellow people, which means that we aren’t following the example of Christ at all. In fact,
…too much of our energy and drive has been misdirected toward materialism, comfort and convenience. Many of us no longer keep our church buildings open to provide a safe harbor for our children after school. We are concerned that our buildings may be torn up. We have shut out the children in our communities who need the influence of God’s people and God’s Word on their lives. We have become inwardly focused and are not the healing agents we once were. This is part of our confession and we must be broken about it.
– p. 81
Perkins outlines three steps that we must take: lament, confession and forgiveness. Tears that fall as a response to the pain of others are never wasted. Admissions of guilt and sorrow, even through clenched-teeth, as they often are, are the first steps on the road to healing. Forgiveness – seeking it from God when we discover our prejudices, seeking it from those we have wronged, forgiving those who have wronged us – brings freedom. These steps, by the power and grace of God, enable us to remove the blinders from our eyes and the hardness from our hearts.
I am deeply sober as I write this review. I think of traveling to England nearly a decade ago and experiencing my first encounters with men and women who had emigrated from Middle Eastern countries. I was afraid. Afraid of people I didn’t even know because they were different from me. I grew irritated because their customs and ways of doing business were not was I was used to. Now, I realize that I missed out. I realize that I have contributed to the problem. Lord, forgive me.
When I saw you from afar, I thought you were a monster. When you got closer, I thought you were just an animal. When you got even closer, I saw that you were human, but when we were face-to-face, I realized that you were my brother.
– p. 164
I highly recommend One Blood. This is not a book of politics or picking sides or putting all the blame on one set of cultural shoulders. Perkins’ call is for everyone – step outside of our comfort zones, allow cherished notions to be challenged and demolished, learn to see the “other” as, really, “same.” You and me, people together, made by the awesome and creative hand of Almighty God.