15) Facing Up to Reality

Clarence Jordan (1912-1969) was a Baptist preacher, New Testament scholar, and farmer.  He operated an integrated farm in Georgia in the 1950’s before integration was allowed in the South.  Blacks and whites lived, worked, and ate together on this cooperative farm, and their neighbors did all they could to get them out of the area.  In this reading, Jordan describes one of the attempts to get him to move.    (From Cotton Patch Sermons (p. 114) by Clarence Jordan)

     One time about 93 carloads of Ku Klux Klansmen came out to Koinonia Farm and suggested to us that we find a climate a little bit more conducive to our health.  We declined the advice, and word got out that I was about to be lynched.  Some very dear friends came to me and suggested that I find refuge north of the Mason-Dixon line.

    I said, “Well, we came here because of the will of God, and, if we leave, it will have to be because of the will of God.”

    They said, “Now, wait a minute here, you’ve been a preacher too long.  You’ve got to get your head out of them theological clouds and face up to reality.  That Klan is about to lynch you and you might as well face up to it.”

    Well, I hadn’t been sitting there being bombed and machine-gunned and all like that for three years without being aware of the fact that I was in danger.  But I said to them, “Now, what do you mean ‘face up to reality?’”

    They said, “Be practical.  It’s all right to discuss theology at the seminary, but you got to face up to the cold stark facts of life.”

    I said to them, ‘Now listen, I think I’m the one that’s being realistic and you are the ones that are being unrealistic.  You’re facing up to the demands of the Klan which is temporal and transient.  And I’m facing up to the demands of God who is eternal.  Now who’s being realistic?  I think God was here before the Klan and I think He’ll be here after the Klan is gone.  And I think God is more real in this universe than the Ku Klux Klan.”

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Faith is not belief in spite of evidence but a life lived in scorn of the consequences.   Clarence Jordan

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     The story is told that after one sermon before a Southern congregation, an elderly woman approached Clarence Jordan and said, “I want you to know that my granddaddy fought in the Civil War, and I’ll never believe a word you say.”  Returning her steely glare with a gracious smile, Jordan replied, “Ma’am, your choice seem quite clear.  It is whether you will follow your granddaddy or Jesus Christ.”

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Matthew 10:28 — (Jesus said), “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

 Psalm 56:3-4 — When I am afraid, I will trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid.  What can mortal man do to me?

Psalm 118:5-8 — In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free.  The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?  The Lord is with me; he is my helper.  I will look in triumph on my enemies.  It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.

Acts 21:12b-14 — …We and the people there pleaded with Paul not to go up to Jerusalem.  Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart?  I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”  When he would not be dissuaded, we gave up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”

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    O Lord Jesus, who art the only health of all men living, and the everlasting life of those who die in thy faith: I give myself wholly unto thy will, being sure that anything which is committed unto thy mercy cannot perish.  –-Thomas Cromwell, before his execution