In Volume 16 of the Fullmetal Alchemist manga, we meet Major General Olivier Mira Armstrong and her crew near the northern border of Amestris. One of the members of her group is a man of Ishvalan descent. This is a problem for some as they were at war with Ishbal and slaughtered many of their people, but not her. When confronted about the whole thing in the past, Armstrong responds by saying, “Race, ethnicity, gender, class. Any type of prejudice can only lead to weakness…we must be a single force! Let nothing weaken our resolve.”
Major General Armstrong is a soldier and more than anything has realized a fundamental truth – race has no place in managing her forces. If they allowed race to divide them, they would suffer – they would falter – they would fail. The border would be overtaken. Lives would be lost. Armstrong understood this simple truth, in order to succeed we must throw our bias aside and work together.
Unity is an important in the field of battle. If you and your fellow soldier are at war with each other, how then can you defend each other from the enemy before you. Armstrong had a tight force she was running and needed everyone on board, listening to orders as a single force. Disunity ended that singleness of force, it created weakness, and it could lead to failure.
Paul commonly spoke of unity in his letters to the various churches. In 1 Corinthians 1, Paul began by reminding them of the foolishness of disunity (1 Corinthians 1:10-17). Like the Ishvalan soldier, Paul was afraid there would be arguments about who belonged to who. In the case of the Corinthians, some were speaking as though who baptised them mattered more than the fact that they were one church. As Paul said, it’s irrelevant. In order to move forward together as one church – you need to be of one mind, you need to cease with the division caused by silly things like who baptised who. Are they saved by Paul or Apollos, asked Paul? No. Neither Paul nor Apollos were crucified or are the Lord. Christ is. Christ is what matters, not who baptised you. In Chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians, Paul re-emphasizes the point discussing how despite our differences in abilities – we are all one in Christ. Unity is what matters, unity not in similarity in race, ethnicity, gender, or status, but in the Lord. Paul reminds us that the eye has a different function from the hand and a different function from the ear. Yet, they are all one body. As are we.
Later in his letters to the Colossians and Galatians, Paul points out an important truth on race as well (Galatians 3:27-29, Colossians 3:10-11). Arguments arose over whether one was a Greek Christian, Jewish Christian, etc. But Paul rightly pointed out that it didn’t matter. We are all one in Christ. We are all together in this battle against an immortal enemy – sin. As such, while our race and background do help determine where we are from, going forward we’re all one family united for Christ and in Christ.
Racism has no place in God’s church. Today we still see corners of the internet and our society where anger, bitterness, and racism still dwell. We see it arise periodically and we need to quell it. Christ does not see us as different peoples to be segregated into different boxes, but as all part of his family adopted into the family of Abraham. We see an earthly picture of this in stories of adoption, my family being one of those stories. There are three of us who are biologically related, there are five of us who are unrelated by biology and were birthed in Russia, Kazakhstan, and El Salvador. We are still all one family. There is still unity in us despite our different ethnicities. Ethnic differences are not causes for division in a family, but of celebration of the fact that Christ has brought us together from all over the globe as one family. But, I digress.
In Armstrong, we see an incredibly strong leader – a woman who has been battle tested from a long line of warriors. She could have kept her ranks limited to pure blooded Amestrians like herself. She did not. Christ is the King of Kings, the Son of God, the seed of Jesse from the Messianic line. He could have kept access to the Lord our God limited only to those pure blooded members of the line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He did not. He opened the doors to all the races of the world to the God above all gods. He gave us the free gift of salvation in His blood, a free gift we did not deserve and He did so with no regard to whether we were Greek, Jewish, Amestrian, or Ishvalan. I pray we all are able to maintain this Biblical mindset of racial reconciliation and unity as displayed by Major General Armstrong.
Cross-posted to Beneath the Tangles