Unity within the church is not only achieved when we cross denominational barriers, but racial ones as well. Hate and racism has been alive and well since the days of Cain and Abel. It is present in every location across the Globe. With that being said, it should not be so within the church.
What feelings erupt while looking at the picture above? If you are racist, I know the uncomfortable feeling you had. You might not even be reading this sentence because it enraged you and you exited this blog. Maybe you are staying because you feel it is your duty to defend the confederate flag and you want to find all the reasons you can get mad at me and pick apart my argument.
I'm a transformed insider, so I came prepared. I will not write of the things I do not know, but rather the things I can testify. I cant speak of the root causes of tribal differences in the Congo; I can only testify to things I have witnessed in my lifetimes living in the southern region of America . Lifetimes is not a typo, because I have experienced two very different lifetimes. One was when my spirit was dead, and I was influenced by family, culture, and community. Then I died to myself. I became a new creature in Christ.
In my old life, I could tell you I had a right to wear my confederate flag T-shirts. I had heritage, and could be proud. Even after I got saved, I could not understand why the NAACP boycotted our State for flying the flag. It was a part of history after all. But, then I stumbled upon a barbeque restaurant that embarrassed me as a Southern Christian and forever changed my stance.
I ventured inside an establishment that had made national news because of the confederate flag. I hadn't followed closely, but did put a light opinion that owner had the right to display his heritage. It was sad he had some of his products dropped because of his refusal to take down the flag in front of his businesses. I was waiting on my food, and found a table with "educational literature." I picked up a pamphlet and was disgusted.
Now, I was a young Christian , hungry to learn the bible, and believed everybody knew more than me. The pamphlet expounded on why slavery was biblical, and quoted "scientific" research that proved the white race was superior to others. I knew right then that there are those that may believe that Jesus is real, but they don't follow him. The reason being, is the devil doesn't care if you believe in Jesus, he just doesn't want you to follow Jesus.
News Flash: Jesus wasn't black and neither was his mama.
We can debate State's rights all day as to being the root of the civil war, and you maybe, can win, and all I will say is state's rights are a small price to pay for the freedom its defeat allowed so many. Did that offend you?
Philippians 2:5-11 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
Jesus announced in Luke 4:18 quoting the old testament prophecy. "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.
Jesus came to do what we as Christians are admonished to do seeking him as an example. Give up your life, lay down your "rights" and serve this world. He did not ask you to win the argument.
Now there are misconceptions about the natives of the Bible Belt. Some say they are God-fearing, while others say they are hypocrites. There are two women that could not make me more proud to be a southern Christian. These two virtuous mistresses were scandalous in the mid to late 1800's. Angelina and Sara Grimke broke darn near every mold there was for a Southern Christian Woman. They even got banned from entering their hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, where there affluent Daddy was a Judge. What spurned them on? Did they desire to get attention as the first two women to testify to state legislature about African American rights? No they got saved. They had been around church all their life, but they became born-again.
They were transformed insiders that wanted to give a voice to the ones that had no voice. The were offending many by speaking in mixed audiences and I'm not talking about ones with mixed races. It was considered improper for women to address men from a public platform. But that is just what these sassy ladies did. They would rather be accused of impropriety than apathy. These southern belles had rotten fruit hurled along with insults at them while begging others to listen to the atrocities they had seen happen to slaves. Their own slaves. They admitted their apathy before they became a Christian. They testified and begged. Family disowned them and they dealt with weak health due to their rigid schedule of speaking engagements to declare the American slave trade was wrong and not biblical.
I mention them because it tames my own stereotypical opinion of the Bible Belt.
1 Cor 12:21-24 And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked,…
Think about it for a minute. The members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. The ones we THINK are less honorable are the ones we bestow more abundant honor.
To me that says, "If you gonna brag, brag about the weakest and most detestable of your fold." What transformation can the prisoner you ministered to testify about? What can the racist hateful person in your fold testify to in regards to the miraculous infilling of the Holy Spirit? It's not about your church budget, or if you have a congregant that is a doctor or senator. What has the message of love you preached done for the least of these. Has the minority within your midst found acceptance in the family of God?
The only thing we should boast is Jesus Christ crucified and risen again. The only banner we wave is his banner which is love.
Jesus said it's better to enter Heaven maimed than hell whole. No banner is worth holding onto that has offended so many, or going to hell for. We are to lay down our idols. Don't think it's an idol? What thoughts did you have when you saw flames on the confederate flag? What arguments did you have? Were they loving thoughts and arguments that caused you to be closer to your brother or build him up? Please leave that loving comment below in the comment section.
The same place that had one of the largest slave markets in the US and banned Sara and Angelina Grimke is hosting a Prayer Assembly tomorrow June 13, 2015. If you have read the other blog posts in this series on Unity, have you considered attending or hosting an event similar? Do you have some in your circle that needs to hear the message of racial equality?
Don't brush it off in fear of offending. There is no fear in love, and you cannot say you Love God if you do not love your brother. Church attendance and tithing will not absolve racial prejudices.
Which lifetime are you living in?
Colossians 3:11I l In this new life, it doesn't matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.
I have much more to say, and southern secrets to reveal, but I leave you with a poem I had to memorize in junior high. I found it by accident. We were given assignment to find a poem we liked and memorize it. I took the library to find a poem about my childhood State, Alabama. I fantasized about moving back , and wanted to find a poem to share with my South Carolina classmates about the great state of Alabama. But I stumbled upon something different, that made me not feel so guilty about feeling shame when white Adult family or neighbors used derogatory comments about other races. This poem whispered an idea that I did not have to adopt the same beliefs as my elders, evoked desire to study poetry and sparked a love for writing.
Daybreak In Alabama
by: Langston Hughes
When I get to be a composer
I'm gonna write me some music about
Daybreak in Alabama
And I'm gonna put the purtiest songs in it
Rising out of the ground like a swamp mist
And falling out of heaven like soft dew.
I'm gonna put some tall tall trees in it
And the scent of pine needles
And the smell of red clay after rain
And long red necks
And poppy colored faces
And big brown arms
And the field daisy eyes
Of black and white black white black people
And I'm gonna put white hands
And black hands and brown and yellow hands
And red clay earth hands in it
Touching everybody with kind fingers
And touching each other natural as dew
In that dawn of music when I
Get to be a composer
And write about daybreak