“Apartheid” is an Afrikaans word—the language of South Africa—that means “separateness.” The practice of racial and cultural apartheid found its legal roots in South Africa when a system of institutionalized racial segregation was introduced within society in 1948. From that date the system was maintained by the authoritarian political power of one group of citizens over the citizenship of the rest of the country.
The practice of apartheid within South Africa resulted in a system of dysfunctional social stratification, which social system legally prevailed until the early 1990s. However, even after the writing of a new constitution that did away with all the apartheid laws, the embedded social behavior of apartheid continues to this day among all social groups of the country. It is a system of dysfunctional social behavior much like the caste system of India that lingers on today, though the legal restrictions are long gone. Social changes continue long after the demise of legal statutes that seek to regulate society contrary to the principles of the word of God.
We live with the legacy of the dysfunctional social injustice of apartheid even to this day in South Africa. But before we target and criticize South Africa for her brief history of apartheid, we must remember that apartheid has always existed throughout the world. The experts use the word “ethnocentrism” to identify the foundation upon which separateness within societies often prevails. Without the principle of “love-your-neighbor-as-yourself,” apartheid is simply the legalization of ethnocentrism. If we take away legalized apartheid, we still of behave as segregated citizens within a society because of different skin colors or cultures.
We originally began the writing of this book in order to deal with dysfunctional behavior systems among the early disciples. But the more we focused on the dysfunctional behavior patterns of the early disciples, the more we began to realize that apartheid was strong in the first century, and subsequently found its way into the organic function of the early church. When it came into the fellowship of the church, organic dysfunction resulted because apartheid is against the very core of the gospel.
Apartheid among Christians is contrary to the spirit of the gospel. When Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Have this mind in you,” he took the Philippians, and us, on a journey of the Son of God across cultural boundaries (Ph 2:5). Jesus illustrated in His gospel mission that unless He transitioned the separateness between God and man that would eventually lead to the total annihilation of humanity for eternity, He had to destroy the “apartheid” between God and man (See Is 59:2). He had to set an example of a cross-cultural journey that would bring all men of society together into the fellowship of one body. This is gospel. Therefore, for those who have obeyed the gospel of the Son of God, there can be no apartheid between those who have come into the fold of God’s gospel-obedient people. Because He so loved the world, the Son of God left the culture of heaven in order to cross over into our culture. He did so in order to reconcile all of us together into the united family of God. We must never forget that only in Christ can the following social order prevail over our natural instincts of apartheid:
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek. There is neither bondservant nor free. There is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.