Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Justification by Slavery Alone
I argue with my mother a lot. Not in a way that I break the fifth commandment; but we do go at it. Most of our arguments are over (you guessed it): politics and religion. You see, Mom was raised in the south (Augusta, Georgia) came up through segregation and the civil rights era. Yes, she had to ride on the back of the bus and she had to drink from the "colored only" water fountain. She was called "nigger" and MacDonald's would only serve her if she went to the back door of the restaurant. So she feels that since I was spared all of these dehumanizing events I have no clue as to why we black folk can't just forgive and forget.
I know it doesn't compare in magnitude; but I have to remind her that I have had a taste of racism in my life also. I grew up in the Bronx during the 70's and 80's. My friends and I were physically attacked by white boys for riding our bikes through the Castle Hill area while being black. I've been called "nigger" while walking on the street minding my own business. I remember ambulances taking their sweet time to respond to calls from black neighborhoods (911 is a Joke! Thanks, Public Enemy). I remember Crown Heights and Bensonhurst. I can't claim the levels Mom has seen; but I'm not totally unstained by dehumanizing events.
My point here is not so much how my Mom still holds a grudge about these things. It's about how she and so many of her generation (and some of mine) have tricked themselves into believing that having experienced these events,the evils of slavery and racial discrimination are somehow salvific. It's this mindset that fuels the Jeremiah Wrights, Al Sharptons and James Cones of the world. And that is a source of great discomfort for me. Contrary to what my Mom sometimes states, I love my people a great deal. It would be tragic for vast numbers of us to experience the eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth only because we thought we had some sort of "get out of hell free" card because of slavery.
Oddly enough, Mom easily dismisses the facts that we too enslaved people in our history. She forgives the Africans who sold other Africans to the "white man" cheap for slave labor. I guess since all that happened so long ago that makes it okay. I guess it's like us calling each other "nigga". We can do it to each other; but it's off limits to you "white man"!
What Mom and many of us black folk fail to realize is that God is not particularly enamored with us. Yes, black is beautiful, but even "black" shows the stain of sin. You can try soaking it out, you can try scrubbing it out; but it won't come out until the blood of Jesus is applied.
My friend Alex Compere emailed me a very powerful video by Pastor Paul Washer. After viewing it, I watched more of Washer's videos and I thought these two, in particular, spoke to what I'm trying to convey here. The bottom line here is that all of us (black, white, yellow and chartreuse) are sinners from birth. The total depravity of man is a fact that has enabled all the atrocities of history . . . those blacks have committed also! The balancing factor and the only remedy for our sin is the love of God shown through the sacrifice of His son, Jesus. Being black and having survived slavery and racial discrimination may prove our endurance, tenacity and more likely God's grace; but it doesn't guarantee our salvation.
In his epic work "The Institutes of the Christian Religion" John Calvin stated that "without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God". He also stated, "without knowledge of God there is no knowledge of self". Please watch the following videos . . . in some small way, I hope the first will be seed for a more Scriptural view of ourselves and the second for a more glorifying view of our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Be Like the Bereans, Baby!!!(Acts 17:11)