Scripture Reading: Colossians 3:1-11
In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all! –Colossians 3:11
1: centering upon race as a chief interest or end
2a: inclined to regard one’s own race or social group as the center of culture
b: exhibiting an incapacity for viewing foreign cultures dispassionately
I first discovered the word “Ethnocentric” in Sociology 103. A required basic college course taken in my first semester, it changed my life and my major. I came to school in pursuit of a degree in speech pathology, left with a degree in pre-social work sociology. The Watts Riots, happening in August 1965 a few days before I left for college, also had an impact. Fresh off the farm and small town life, entering a college world that challenged thinking was a going home experience. I found myself there.
I am the substance of my background and upbringing. I probably sang Jesus loves the little Children, All the Children of the World** by the time I could speak full sentences. Singing songs and reciting memory verses about doing unto others and loving our neighbors plants the seeds of Christ’s way. Most of us never realize when we have picked up cultural norms without even thinking. The realities of racism, elitism, sexism, and the other areas of life by which we take on our ethnocentric tendencies while subtly acquired, require intentionally expunging.
The lessons of the early church apply to us today. What is of God and what is of culture? Discerning the answer to these questions was necessary for the fledgling way of Christ to come to fruition. It remains necessary today as we journey geographically and culturally to the ends of the earth and perhaps even beyond.
Prayer: Lord, you call us to serve in a diverse world. We can see it either as a dangerous threat to our ethnocentric ways or as an opportunity in which we can see even more facets of your glorious love. Give us courage to discern your way and live it. Amen.
**Jesus Loves the Little Children, words by C. Herbert Woolston. See at http://www.allaboutgod.com/jesus-loves-the-little-children.htm. An updated version.
All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.