621) Racism: The Real Problem and the Only Solution

     

     When Benjamin Watson, a New Orleans Saints’ tight end, heard the news of the Ferguson grand jury decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown, the professional football player crafted a powerful response.  In his Facebook post Watson cited sin, and not skin, as the root of the problem in Ferguson and elsewhere.  He wrote:

I’M ENCOURAGED, because ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem.  SIN is the reason we rebel against authority.  SIN is the reason we abuse our authority.  SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced, and lie to cover for our own.  SIN is the reason we riot, loot, and burn.  BUT I’M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through the his son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind.  One that’s capable of looking past the outward and seeing what’s truly important in every human being.  The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure.  It’s the Gospel.  So, finally, I’M ENCOURAGED because the Gospel gives mankind hope.

     For Watson, the solution is not protests.  It is sharing the Gospel.

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P. S.:     The Christian football player’s comments went viral.  After receiving over 750,000 post likes, Watson joined CNN’s Brooke Baldwin to comment on Ferguson’s unrest.  But when the interview took a turn CNN didn’t expect—namely, Watson’s mention of Jesus Christ—the satellite feed of Watson suddenly cut off.   This incident left many people questioning whether it was a ‘technical difficulty,’ or, censorship of Watson’s Christian faith.  You can watch and decide for yourself at:

 youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ei3g97-tH8

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Romans 3:22-24  —  This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Acts 13:38-39a  —  Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.  Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin…

Romans 5:10-11  —   For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!  Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

II Corinthians 5:16-20  —  So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view…  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old has gone, the new is here!  All this is from God,who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.  And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

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Good and gracious God,

Who loves and delights in all people, we stand in awe before You,

Knowing that the spark of life within each person on earth is the spark of your divine life.

Differences among cultures and races are multicolored manifestations of Your Light, and

You invite us to recognize and reverence your divine image and likeness in our neighbor.

May our hearts and minds be open to celebrate similarities and differences among our sisters and brothers.

May all peoples live in Peace.  AMEN.

–www.sistersofmercy.org

574) One in Christ, No Matter What Color

     

     Clarence Jordan (1912-1969) was a Baptist minister and the founder of the integrated Koinonia Farms in Georgia.  At a time in the 1950s, when racism and discrimination were especially rampant in the South, he went into the hills of South Carolina to conduct some revival meetings in a Baptist church.  When he came out on the platform to preach, he was amazed to discover that the congregation of several hundred people was thoroughly integrated.  White and black people were sitting together all over the place.

     Right after the service was over, Clarence got the old hillbilly preacher who pastored the church aside and asked him, “How did you get this way?”

     “What way?” answered the preacher.

     “Racially integrated!” answered Clarence.  “Did you get this way since the decision?”

     “What decision?” asked the old preacher.

     “The Supreme Court decision of 1954 that struck down segregation of the schools,” Clarence responded.

     “Supreme Court?” the preacher shot back.  “What’s the Supreme Court got to do with what we do in church?”

     Clarence Jordan was not about to drop the matter.  “Come on,” he said, “You know that to have a racially integrated congregation like this is really unusual down here in South Carolina.  Tell me how you got this way!”

     “Well,” answered the old preacher, with a sly little smile on his face, “this church was down to just a handful of people when the last preacher left, and they couldn’t get a new preacher no how.  So, after a few months, I told the deacons that, if they couldn’t get themselves a preacher, I’d be willing to preach for them, and they let me do it.”

     “The first Sunday I preached to the people, I preached on Galatians 3:28 and told them how everybody becomes one in Christ Jesus.  I told them that, with real Christians, nobody pays any attention to things like the color of people’s skin.  I preached that not to be one in Jesus was not to be Christian.”

     “After the service, the deacons called me into the back room and told me that they didn’t want to hear that kind of preaching no more!”

     “What did you do then?” asked Clarence.

     “I fired them deacons!” the old preacher shouted back.  “I mean, if deacons ain’t gonna ‘deac’ like the Bible says, they ought to be fired.”

     “How come they didn’t fire you?” asked Clarence.

     “They never hired me!” was the answer.  “Well, when I found out what bothered them people,” continued the old preacher, “I gave it to them every week.”

     “Did they put up with it?” inquired Clarence.

     “Not really,” answered the preacher.  “I preached that church down to four.  But after that, we began to pickup new members.  We wouldn’t let people into membership unless they were really Christians either.”

     “How did you know if people were really Christians?” asked Clarence.

     “That was easy,” said the preacher.  “Down here, from when we’re knee high to a grasshopper, we’re taught that there’s a difference between black folks and white folks.  But when people become Christians, all of that stuff is forgotten.  In Jesus, we overcome all of that racist evil, and we work hard at becoming one in Christ.”

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Galatians 3:26-28  —  So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 1:10  —  I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

2 Corinthians 5:16a  —  So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view…

Ephesians 4:32  —  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Colossians 3:15  —  Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful.

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O Lord Jesus Christ, in whom all differences of class are done away, take from us all pride, envy, and prejudice.  Unite us to one another by a common zeal for your cause, and enable us by your grace to offer to you the manifold fruits of our service.  Amen.

–Brooke Foss Westcott  (1825-1901), Bishop of Durham