I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.
For the past three or four years, I have been in the unique position to watch our collective environment go through an unbelievable shifting in a day that is supposed to reflect progression for all people. I was never under the impression that my family would have to live in a period that is attempting to roll back laws, attitudes, and perspectives that would do harm to anyone that is committed to wholistic advancement.
Racism, sexism, and many other disenfranchising projects are not new to the democratic experiment known as the United States. These separating elements are not a new idea created by evil people of today. They are the result of depraved lives who desire to rule a place as an entity attempting to be greater than God. Sound familiar? It is down right demonic. Yet as I write, I must admit that nothing truly shocks me any more.
I have shared on this platform my issues with institutional racism. I have shared encounters with the police that could have gone differently. I have even taken the time to open my social media space to individuals with the hope of gaining a pragmatic understanding as to why people feel passionately about issues that are seen in the wrong light. Not too many people have taken me up on my offers. Many people are still confused by what is happening. So, I want to take a moment not to explain but enlighten and possibly agitate the sensibilities of many people.
I am follower of the religion of Jesus (quoting Howard Thurman). I am a Black man and unapologetic with that statement. I am a husband of a Black woman. I am the father of a young Black man. I am the son of a Black woman. I am the grandson of a Black couple married for 65 years. I have lived in melainized skin for 36 years and counting. I have listened and watched as people have attempted to make me and others feel shame and guilt for have pride and identity. I have endured countless conversations where people continue to tell me and others to forget about the history that is recorded.
The dissmive nature of those people (who embody many different hues unfortunately) have caused great strife, anguish, decension in the body politic. People have claimed a great love for God have forgotten very quickly that God cares about the entire state of men and women. People who occupy credentials like mine in ministry have risen to positions of influence only to become a part of a fusion machine similar to the rise of Hitler and a bastardized, Nazi-filled theology.
Oh, you do realize that the many people that live under the improperly named banner of Evangelical Christian walk out the same methodology that led to the intentional destruction of Jews. How can you care about the abortion of children and not the needs of the living poor? How can you make helping people a judgement call? How do you permit anyone who is self-admitted fondler, misogynist, and perpetuator of nationalistic ideas the beacon voice of your faith? How do you justify to God that you care more about the maintenance of your lifestyle of the improvement of the least of these?
I want you to know from me, that each and every one of you who have stated to the devil in your wilderness that you will take the kingdoms over your commitment to God, make me sick. You are the very reason that people refuse to be truly free in Christ. You are the reason people do not take the commitment or relationship with God seriously. With so many people of the faith fighting daily to demonstrate the most genuine and unfiltered view of God, my soul has grown weary of navigating through your mess to tell others about the true reality when it comes to serving God truly.
You have demonstrated to me in a very clear way that you have set a price for your soul. What shall a man (woman) give in exchange for his (her) soul? Integrity, faith, righteousness—that is the price for maintaining an atmosphere of benefit for one and not the whole. Courage is not about performing a heroic, reactionary act. Courage is the ability to stand for truth when it hurts. Unfortunately, too many people, who claim to follow the same Christ I do, have decided to be the merchants and money changers in the temple. You got to pay a price to worship with us. Give up the identity. Give up the fight. Give up the righteousness. No.
Here is where the rest of us come in. I know you have grown weary. You continue to talk and act to such an extent that you feel like you are working in circles. You are tired of telling people things that just make sense to you. You are tired of saying, Don’t you see that right there? Can’t you see that people being unjustly killed is wrong? Don’t you know that Jesus is not about harming anyone? Why are you still supporting the values of someone who does not support you?
I get it. It is an exhausting thing that people will never understand. However, I want to stand as a Paul to you today and remind you. Don’t give up. The world needs us. I know they don’t think so. But, souls are on the line. We can not perpetuate another generation of people who believe that black and brown lives are expendable. We can not have another generation where women are perceived only as good for being objects. We can not permit another day to go by without agitating the status quo. We can not continue to be content with below average living.
Our commitment must be to not live as people without confidence. We must be bold and declare that we are created, loved, and embraced in the image and likeness of Almighty God, and we will not accept a lesser response or attitude from anyone. We must mobilize in such a manner that we stop the infighting and lift our voices and ideas high to finally eliminate the label and mentality of disenfranchisement. We must correct people when they attempt to change the narrative. We must make individual content with current condition of the world uncomfortable until they are willing to encounter and confront the necessity for change.
The time has come for us to make our voices heard, our actions meaningful, and our mandate clear. The world needs us…..