One of my best friends has a Ph.D. in a very specialized field. He has spent a ridiculous amount of time on a narrow topic and knows more about it than just about anybody. He mentioned to me recently that he has noticed a tendency to filter many issues according to his specialty. This article helps us remember that we need to be Avoiding Tunnel Vision with Race.
My friend might feel this tendency more acutely than the rest of us, but we are all susceptible to a similar phenomenon. Our experiences and passions direct our focus and make us care more about some things than others. That’s not necessarily a bad thing! God has given each of us particular gifts and burdens which enable us to play the roles He has given us in building up the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12).
Throughout Scripture, God makes clear His plan for diversity. D.A. Carson has noted:
The Triune God loves diversity—so much so, as someone has remarked, that when he sends a snowstorm he makes each flake different. We manufacture ice cubes. Doubtless the church is in some sense like a mighty army, but that does not mean we should think of ourselves as undifferentiated khaki. We should be more like an orchestra: each part making its own unique contribution to the symphonic harmony (1).
God’s plan for the diversity of His people means that He has created and saved people diverse in more ways than we even recognize. This reflects the depth of the One in whose image we are created. Given what we know about God, we should not expect everyone to be like us.
While we might know that in theory, it can be tough to remember in practice. God-given passion is a good thing. But I should not require my brothers and sisters to have the same level of focus and attention that I have on a given issue. If I do, I infringe on their uniqueness and try to make them more like me.
We can certainly advocate for issues and try to convince others to care more about certain things. It could be that some people in your life need to care more about issues like racism than they do. But none of us should presume to have God’s wisdom or perfect balance as we survey all the issues clamoring for our attention.
Any number of factors can make us care about an issue. Experience and proximity play a greater role than we might recognize. Bring up issues of education choice, racism, abuse, abortion, or any other difficult issue, and you might get a very passionate theological response. But if you ask follow-up questions, oftentimes conclusions were not reached by dispassionate Bible study. Folks who had a bad experience in a public school might be the most vocal advocates for homeschooling, or vice versa.
I do not mean in any way to undermine the principle of Sola Scriptura. I mean to give us a healthy suspicion of ourselves. We make arguments from Scripture for or against issues all the time. But it does not follow that just because our arguments are sound they are necessarily balanced. I am convinced that the Bible teaches baptism by immersion. But if that’s all I ever talk about or if I assign it the same level of importance as the Divinity of the Son, I’ve lost the plot.
I bring all of this up as a caution to those of us who care about fighting racism. Racism is a heinous sin. We may give it no quarter. But let’s not allow it to singularly dominate our minds. There is other evil to be opposed, and it could be that God has given other saints passion in other areas precisely because He cares about all of it. Another saint’s passion is not a threat to my own, given that we trust the Providence of God over all of it. Let’s agree in the Lord, agree on principles, and not bind each others’ consciences in areas of freedom and prudence. To do our best Avoiding Tunnel Vision with Race.
Lord, please help us all to hold our passions in check without losing them.
(1) D.A. Carson, Showing the Spirit: A Theological Exposition of 1 Corinthians 12–14 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1974), 32.
Article originally published: June 29, 2021
- Pray for a confidence in God’s word that does not allow us to bind each other’s consciences on matters of prudence or wisdom.
- Pray that God would show you areas you are tempted to make mandatory for other believers in wrong or imbalanced ways.
- Pray that God unifies His people in ways which do not require uniformity or threaten the diversity He has created.