I was recently struck by the words of Priscilla Shirer, 44. She is a black woman, a motivational speaker, TV host, author, preacher and founder of Going Beyond Ministries. Priscilla recently had her first acting role in the Christian movie War Room playing Elizabeth, the wife of Tony Jordan.
Chuck Bernal, the pastor of Lifepoint Church, recently shared a video on Facebook of some profound statements Priscilla made about race, politics and the Christian faith. On the video that has been viewed nearly 7.5 million times, Priscilla said:
“I do not describe myself as a black woman because that gives too much power to my blackness.
“I don’t want my race to be the describing adjective of who I am as a woman. I am not a black woman. I am a Christian woman who happens to be black.
“It’s the job of your adjective to describe the noun of who you are. If there’s gonna be an adjective describing me it’s not gonna be my race, it’s going to be I’m a woman who believes in every single thing that my God has declared to be true. And I will stand firmly on the promises of His word because I will be girded in truth.”
This is such a powerful statement “I am not a black woman. I am a Christian woman who happens to be black.” It is a truth that we all need to grasp.
The Apostle Paul made a similar statement in his letter to the Galatians when he wrote that there is neither Jew or Greek:
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28 NASV)
The word translated Greek in this verse referred more to the Greek language that was widely spoken in most nations and was often used to describe all races or gentiles.
The Greek phrase “ouk eni” is more absolute than we see in the NASV. It means “there is not” and some Bible versions translate the phrase as there is “NO” Jew or Greek in the Body of Christ.
Paul is saying that race does not exist in the Kingdom God. No racial group is better or has more privileges than any other.
In this case, he was specifically addressing the tension in the early church between the Jews and gentiles. When the Holy Spirit fell upon the gentiles (Acts 10), they ended up speaking in tongues.
This generated a huge controversy.
On one hand, you had the Judaizers who said these gentiles needed to become Jews first (get circumcised) to become Christians. But others argued that since God had poured out His Holy Spirit upon the gentiles before they were circumcised, obviously God was not a respecter of race.
The Apostle Paul referenced this tension earlier in his letter to the Galatians when he noted how Peter ate with the gentiles at Antioch until some men of the circumcision party showed up. At that point, Peter separated himself from the gentiles and would no longer associate with them (Galatians 2:11-14).
Paul adds until these Judiazers arrived, Peter lived like a gentile. He was one with the gentiles.
Paul challenged Peter saying:
14But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews? (Galatians 2:14 ESV)
I appreciate how the English Standard Version translates this verse, Paul says Peter was no longer walking in step with the Gospel. He was out of sync with the truth that there are no races in the Kingdom of God.
God is color blind.
It is exactly as Priscilla stated “I am a Christian woman who happens to be Black.”
Unfortunately, Priscilla didn’t stop there. She goes on to suggest there should be no political divides in the church as well. If a person becomes political or joins a political party, it is easy for a person’s faith to be tainted by politics:
“So if your race or if your political group is going in a different direction than the Word of God, you don’t choose your blackness or whiteness or whatever culture you are. You do not choose that or your political persuasion over what God declares to be true… I hate to tell you this, but God doesn’t ride the backs of donkeys or elephants.”
I hate it when people step on my toes. Several years back, I worked full time for a political party and I still remember a statement my wife said to me just before I started:
“Working for a political party will require a bit of your soul.”