Put Your Faith First
The other day I was taking a morning scroll through a social media platform and came across a post that truly troubled my heart. I saw a comment posted by a Bishop—whose name will remain anonymous—but what he said made me question whether he was fit to be in a position of leadership within the Body of Christ. What was equally disturbing was that thousands of people agreed with his statement.
In response to a comment asking whether he was Christian first and everything else second, this Bishop answered:
No, I’m a black man first. I can convert to Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, or become an agnostic or atheist tomorrow. But I’ll still be a black man.
Obviously, there is truth to this statement but that depends on whether you are speaking from the Spirit or from the flesh. As a woman of color, it is easy for me to say that I am a black American first, or a woman first—these are the things some will notice about me the instant they see me. But when I look in the mirror, I don’t see a black person, nor I do I see a woman; I see a child of the Most High God. That is my identity first—everything else comes second.
We can debate what the police see when I get pulled over, we can argue over what a white person sees when they look at me, we can even say that my skin/race is the only thing about me I cannot change. But these are all statements coming from a worldly perspective—let’s take a look at what the Word says.
The first scripture I want to bring up is Luke 9:23 NIV:
Then He said to them all: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me.
This scripture perfectly embodies the meaning of the statement; Christian first, everything else second. What does it mean to deny yourself? What does it mean to take up your cross daily?
Denying yourself for Christ does not mean to dispute the truth about who you are. Being Christian does not suddenly take away your racial identity or your gender. I am still a woman and I am still black—but I am a Christian first. Denying yourself means that you put aside fleshly desires, cares, and concerns—including those involving your race or political party. This doesn’t mean that you should no longer care about your cultural community or be concerned with racism in America. It means that you should approach those issues from a Christian’s perspective.
So, when this Bishop was questioned about whether he was Christian first and everything else second, his response clearly demonstrated what came first in his life. His concerns were focused more on the color of his skin than on the one who gave him that skin.
Did you know that Christ’s skin was torn from his body? That it was pierced and whipped bloody so that you can have the freedom you enjoy today? Our Father willingly denied Himself for our sake—He left heaven and came to earth as a baby to live among us and save us. He put aside His status as the triune God, He denied His own righteousness and took OUR sins upon Himself so that we might be saved [Philippians 2:5-8].
Now that we claim to be saved, it is our turn to deny ourselves. Let’s cast away our earthly concerns and fill ourselves with the Word, only caring for the cross that we carry. Let us not get caught up in the media and the news and the battle over the color of our skin. When we see something that troubles us, whether racial, political, or otherwise, let us bring this issue to God—always to God first as He is our Father and knows how to take care of us and how to handle any situation we face.
The next scripture I want to use is I Samuel 16:7 NIV: But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Notice the part of the scripture where God says, people look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. This means that God does not see our race—He does not care about whether you are a black man, a white man, or a southeast Asian man. God does not consider our outward appearances and if we are supposed to be as Christ (who is God) [I John 4:17], then neither should we consider our outward appearance—from our height to our weight to our race.
When we are Christian first, that means we are putting Christ first and everything else second. We are putting the will of God first and everything else second. We are putting the Blood of Jesus first and everything else second. To say that you are anything else first is to deny your identity in Christ. If Jesus isn’t the head of your life, then He isn’t in your life. He does not come after anyone or anything—others might look at you and see your skin but when God looks down from heaven, His eyes only see the precious Blood of Christ covering you from head to toe.
Consider Matthew 10:32-33 NIV: Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
So, if someone asks you the question are you a Christian first and everything else second, what would your response be?