Identity, Jesus
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How Jesus humbles, affirms and authenticates our heritage

© September 24, 2018 | Schulter Etyang 

In South Africa, September 24th is Heritage Day – also known as Shaka’s Day or National Braai day. It’s a public holiday. On Heritage Day, we acknowledge and celebrate the ethnic, racial and cultural heritage of the diverse populace of our nation. 

The day has a feel-good factor about it. We don our different cultural attires, speak our languages, and many celebrate the day with a traditional meal. The different shades of South Africa come alive on this day.

The backdrop of this day is rather unfortunate. Present day South Africa emerged from the atrocious idea that was apartheid. Apartheid stated that white people were superior to black people, It was an ungodly and unjust system, and when it was finally toppled, the world celebrated. In the New South Africa, all races and languages are now equal.

The vestiges of the past still linger, though. Some still believe they are superior to others.  Another evil, however, also exists. Those who were considered inferior are now rising up and declaring that they are more superior than others. Recently, there was a national discussion that Indian people considered themselves superior to black people. Coloured people have also been accused that they believe they are superior to black people. And within the black community, its different ethnicities accuse each other of superiority. The Xhosa’s, because they are educated, think they are better than the traditional Zulu’s and vice versa.

Which brings me to my point.

I believe that our races, ethnicities and cultures find their truest expression in Jesus and his gospel. I believe that outside of Jesus, thoughts and actions of superiority define our races and ethnicities. 

So what happens when our race and ethnic inclinations experience Jesus? Three things happen. We are humbled, affirmed and become truly human.

Jesus has grace that he gives to the undeserving. He gives grace to sinners. All races and ethnicities are sinful, therefore, we all need his grace. It humbles you when you realize that although you are a sinner, Jesus paid the penalty for you. He died for you. He died as you. In light of grace, I see myself as undeserving, and yet loved to the highest, and that humbles me. I cannot for the sake of Jesus consider myself superior to other people. 

Secondly, Jesus affirms and transforms me. In Jesus, what is good about my race, ethnicity, and culture are affirmed. In Jesus, what is wrong with my race, ethnicity, and culture are redeemed and transformed. 

Thirdly, Jesus authenticates my humanity. What do I mean? It’s only in Jesus that you can become truly human. In Jesus, you really get to become a true Zulu, or a true Xhosa or a true Venda or a true Afrikaner or a true English or a true Kikuyu, or a true Luo, or a true Teso.

New Creation 

Our race, ethnicity, language, and the colour of our skin matter. And they should. It’s called being HUMAN. Better yet, Jesus offers us so much more than what our race, ethnicity, language, and the colour of our skin offer.

Jesus offers us much more than just being BLACK.

Jesus offers us much more than just being WHITE.

Jesus offers us much more than just being COLORED.

Jesus offers us much more than just being INDIAN.

Jesus offers us the NEW CREATION. In the NEW CREATION, your race, ethnicity, language, and color find meaning and express itself fully but not at the exclusion or expense of others. 

In the NEW CREATION, all are made equal yet distinct. 

In the NEW CREATION, you get to savor and enjoy what every other race, ethnicity and language bring to the table. 

In the NEW CREATION, we all are like Jesus and yet fully human.

Happy Heritage Day

That’s what grace looks like

Photo courtesy of <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/south-africa-heritage-background_926220.htm”>Designed by Freepik</a>

This entry was posted in: Identity, Jesus

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Schulter Etyang leads The Life Place in Johannesburg, South Africa. Schulter is one whom Jesus loves. He loves his wife, Jenny, and enjoys reading, travelling, cooking, running and playing squash. He also enjoys conversations with friends about Jesus and about life.

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