I’m a black, conservative, Greek Orthodox man, of African, Puerto Rican, and Cuban descent, who grew up in Harlem, and have spent nearly half my life in Europe, currently in Sweden. The positions I’ve taken politically have caused more than a few folks, consciously or unconsciously, to remain “inside the box” in wondering how I could possibly take those positions. On more than one occasion I’ve been called a few things, as well as being accused of not “keeping it real”. Those stung in the past, but I’m old enough and have seen enough to know better now. However, there is one thing some folks say that still causes me to pause in wonder in amazement. That is, “Don’t forget who you are.” This is usually meant in correction to remind me that I’m a black-American and I should never forget that.
St. Moses the Black
I don’t react this way with everyone who says this. It’s when folks who I know to be church-going and who claim Christ as their Savior say this that causes me much puzzlement. I wonder how seriously they take their own words. Saying it in the correcting way I described above leads me to believe they miss the larger picture of the claims of Christianity. Something I think no Christian should ever forget.
Martyrs of the Boxer Rebellion
In Genesis 1:26 (MKJV) it is written “And God said, let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over all the creepers creeping on the earth.” That verse is so loaded with more than I’m capable of taking apart, that I must quickly point out my lack of theological credentials. That being the case, I’ll rely on the help of one of the best theologians ever, St. John Chrysostom:
For He said, “Let us make man after our image, and after our likeness.” What is the sense of this, “after our image, and after our likeness?” The image of government is that which is meant; and as there is no one in heaven superior to God, so let there be none upon earth superior to man. This then is one, and the first respect, in which He did him honor; by making him after His own image; and secondly, by providing us with this principality, not as a payment for services, but making it entirely the gift of His own love toward man; and thirdly, in that He conferred it upon us as a thing of nature. For of governments there are some natural, and others which are elective;—natural as of the lion over the quadrupeds, or as that of the eagle over the birds; elective, as that of an Emperor over us; for he doth not reign over his fellow-servants by any natural authority. Therefore it is that he oftentimes loses his sovereignty. For such are things which are not naturally inherent they readily admit of change and transposition. But not so with the lion; he rules by nature over the quadrupeds, as the eagle doth over birds. The character of sovereignty is, therefore, constantly allotted to his race; and no lion hath ever been seen deprived of it. Such a kind of sovereignty God bestowed upon us from the beginning, and set us over all things. And not only in this respect did He confer honor upon our nature, but also, by the very eminence of the spot in which we were placed, fixing upon Paradise as our choice dwelling, and bestowing the gift of reason, and an immortal soul.
As you can see, there is absolutely nothing I can add to the description given by this blessed father of the Church. One cannot read what he wrote without coming away seeing the crown man wears on earth despite his sinful state (so much does God loves us!). And no where in that verse is race addressed, nor does it need to be. The history of man is replete with greatness, accomplishments most never could have imagined. And these great accomplishments have not been hindered by any continental borders, much less skin tone.
Christ the Panto Crator
We do great things because we are made in the image of the Greatest. We are made in the image God. A God Who defies being described by color, but rejoices in creating His crown jewel (for lack of a better term) of earth in many shades, shapes, and sizes. A God who has made it possible for an African-American/Cuban/Puerto Rican Harlemite living in Sweden to borrow the words of a Syrian father of the Church to try and remind whomever may listen that we are much more than race. THIS is where and Who we all come from. We are made in the image of the Living God.
May we all never forget this.