Thursday, November 15, 2007

Racism in the Church pt2 (the Brown side)

Earlier I wrote about the nuances in what we are referring to right now as the "white church." Now that label no way really means that there is a "white church" (nor is there truly a "black church"), but for the purpose of this article- well just humor me:). In truth, there is only one church, just as there is only one Lord and one faith. We are all called into this body of Christ regardless of ethnic origin, gender, age, handicap or (gulp!) race. Not one race is superior to another because we are all part of the body that Christ is the lone head of. As Paul stated so well in speaking to the Galatians, "what do you have that has not been given to you?" Not one race has been specifically endowed with a gift more than another. Nor does God look at any ethnicity as being above any other. However, in regards to the "Church," there are those that would elevate "blackness" or "Afrocentrism" above other ethnic persuasions.

At the root of the "Afrocentrism" is the fear of submission. Yet inevitably, it becomes a fear of submission to God. Many in the black church refuse to embrace the term "submission," putting it in the same category as African slavery of the past 400 years (in the American context). Now in no way am I defending that kind of submission. But to fail to submit to the will of God through the Word of God is just as great a sin as slavery is. Further sin comes in when the "blackness" of our people is elevated to a point of saving grace. So we have black folk in the church who are more concerned with the "blackness" of the church than with its submission to the Most High God. How dare you? Yes, I know black folk have gone through things that are at times unspeakable and that at the hands of many white detractors. I know first hand, I have experienced the evils of racism (from both sides at that {I am of Black and Puerto Rican descent}). However, for Black Americans to consider the plight of your own people and neglect the sufferings of hundreds of thousands of others because they are not black is just as wrong as White America ignoring us. How many Christians have been martyred since the beginning of Christianity, is that not a greater injustice?

Again, in no way am I making light of the "black" experience. It has blessed me... and saddened me. But I cherish it because it is a part of me and my children. Yet, my "blackness" in no way overshadows my Savior's blood. As black Christians we must not get caught up in the vendetta of finally coming into our own. Forgiveness is essential in glorifying our Lord. The alternative to forgiveness is the "Christianized" version of the N.O.I.(Nation of Islam). A perverted deviant of what is truly holy. Unfortunately for us, racism is still alive and well. But greater than racism is the love of Christ upon His children.

There are so many black people preparing to burn in hell just because they refuse to believe in the True God of ALL nations. As Isaiah said, "Is God's arm so short that He cannot save?" God forbid. God can save a Black American just as selflessly as he can save a White American. Nor is God insistent upon saving one because he or she is melanin enhanced (as beautiful as that may be). Likewise, God does not choose to save someone because they are melanin deficient (as beautiful as that may be). God saves out of all race because all are His creation and He will do what He pleases.

My melanin enhanced brothers and sisters in Christ, we must break down the doors of racial divide in our churches. Sadly, the majority of churches pushing for mixed congregations are WoF (and that is for the money). Now I am not saying you have to go out of your way to find a melanin deficient individual and bring them to church, but what I am calling for is the love among Christians that facilitates friendship beyond cultural barriers. While we must take care of our communities we must also realize that there are more in our communities than just us. As Christians it is our duty to minister the Gospel to every individual.

Furthermore, there will be some who bring up the differences between cultural groups. Yes, we clap on the 2 and 4 and they clap on the 1 and 3. But that cannot be used as an excuse to avoid worship with our family in Christ. And while I am at it, the preaching style should never weigh more than the content of what is being preached. We as Christians must put things in decency and in order. We must place the highest regard for the Scripture and the preaching/teaching of it above other things in the service (to include the choir).

Sadly, I believe too many black churches have failed. They have failed in cultivating true believers and they have failed to distinguish what is true godliness from a mere form of it. And there is none to blame but ourselves (starting with me). Yet I am hopeful. I know that Christ has not left His church to overcome this sinful world by herself. I see everyday of black believers truly preaching and teaching the Word of God to their families and members of their local congregation. Look at the list of sites on the left. There are many, many righteous black men of God teaching and preaching what He has ordained. These are leaders within the church who are about true worship. Likewise, there are several white brothers who are doing the same.

In the end, only what we do for Christ will last. We will not be patted on the back for Dashiki Sunday's or wearing African garb because we went on a mission trip Uganda. We will not be praised for solely ministering to those who look like us. We were called to go out into the world and preach the Gospel. Do we minister to our own? YES! Do we do it because we don't want to speak with the rest of the world? God forbid. We must open ourselves up to those who we think might not accept the invitation, but we do it with the love of Christ. And to make this point absolutely clear, we will be rejected, laughed at, talked about, but it will be worth it. Why? John said in Revelation5:9, "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation..." Let us continue to be a people that leads all people to Christ for this great and powerful day.

As I end this, a black writer once wrote, "beautiful are my people, beautiful are the eyes of my people, beautiful are the souls of my people!" And it is so true. We are a beautiful people in the sight of God, insomuch as we are His people in Christ. We can bring the gifts God has given us to the greater body of Christ and do much good. But in order to do any good, we must let go of the sins (both of ourselves and of others) that so easily beset us. we must walk with those who glorify the risen King the way He dictates. And above all, we must pick up our cross daily and follow Christ. Be strong my people in Christ's Name, for His sake!

Christians Around the World!