It’s been a long time…shouldn’t left you without dope rhyme to step to…excuse my bad attempt at dropping bars. However, I have been away from the blog too long.
It is difficult to write when your mind is constantly consumed with information, negativity, stress, and strife. It is even more challenging when you read and watch people document about injustice and ignorance on every possible subject. It gets to be extremely tiresome and redundant.
Yet, I am convinced that one of my most important purposes in writing is to uncover and unpack different issues that matter to my place in society. It just so happens that my world possess some interesting intersections. One of those crossroads happen to be my blackness and my faith.
Recently, Serena Williams addressed criticism and critique from former tennis player Billie Jean King. When asked after her Wimbledon finals loss about King’s “suggestion” to focus more on her game than other efforts, Serena suggested that those efforts in gender equality, concerns with in the African American community, and motherhood are ingrained into her purpose. She had no worries about her game.
However, that particular part of an interview did not strike has hard as another quote that capsulized her journey in the sport of tennis and for many others the journey of those in other areas of life.
After the her loss at the US Open to Naomi Osaka, the focus was placed on how she handled officiating during the match. She wrote about how she apologized for what was a moment stolen from her opponent who played the match of her life.
Serena placed her feelings of that moment in time into a powerful context. “I felt defeated and disrespected by a sport that I love, one that I had dedicated my life to and that my family truly changed, not because we were welcomed, but because we wouldn’t stop winning.”—Serena Williams
In the world of Christendom, we are facing the difficult challenge of understanding how anyone can feel or be rejected by a Christ that was accessible and free to all who would receive him. It has been beyond me to try and figure out how anyone could create a faith or theology the vilifies those genuinely desiring to be connected to God.
Then I read this quote and had to take a step back and think. How did my faith get here? Why is the Jesus I serve being marketed like Pootie Tang after signing his image rights to Lecter Corp? (Yes, it is an obscure movie reference from a cult classic entitled Pootie Tang. Watch for mindless entertainment!) Why is Christ the object of a supremacist ideology and theology?
I am constantly amazed at the lack of ability of people to look at the message of the Gospel with dexterity. How is it possible to have the mentality of keeping people out when you are historically welcomed in? How can you claim compassion when posing with people locked in cages? How can you change history by claiming a place that wasn’t occupied when the place was occupied? How can you leave a place for religious freedom yet carry colonialism with you? It doesn’t add up.
How can you whitewash the Gospel for selfish benefit?
For years, I have watched as supremacist ideology, elitist attitudes, and platform propaganda has taken over the culture of churches everywhere. Many people do not realize that much of their experiences dictate how they view and understand their faith. It is difficult for anyone to view their faith through a servant lens when everything has been handed to them.
How does a person with no systematic hindrances effectively help those who are victims of a lack of equality and equity? How can you be benevolent when you believe that you did everything for yourself?
Many of us have bought into these mentalities. Due to that mindset, we constant neglect things that Jesus said that help us to treat people better day by day. Heck, we forget information in the Old Testament that can inform how to engage one another.
“Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for the sake of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm, when he comes and prays toward this house, hear from heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I have built is called by your name.-2 Chronicles 6:32-34, ESV
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.–Matthew 5:2-12, ESV
So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”–John 5:10-17, ESV
These are a few scriptures that I know people from different perspectives will find a way to bend toward a platform. Yet, you can’t deny we are challenged to find a way to demonstrate the heat t of the message. I believe that people have the full capacity to do so. However, it would challenge the notion that many of us may or may not have a genuine relationship with God.
What must we consider when navigating the issues of faith and practice.
1. We don’t own the narrative. We are created in the image and likeness of God. Yet, somehow we have found a way to manipulate the precepts to give ourselves relevance. Anything that disrupts our crafted world must be totally wrong. Anybody that does not fit our view of perfection is imperfect. When Solomon prayed regarding the dedication of the temple, he asked God to bless the foreigner that would come seeking out the presence of God. Solomon wanted all people to encounter the power and glory of Jehovah. The request was that God’s glory would not have a limited scope. Access to the totality of who God is provides the opportunity to witness vast the reach of love, peace, joy, freedom, and balance is provided. Anything less is divisive and demonic.
2. The concrete truth is to make us think and apply. Jesus speaks through in the Sermon on the Mount about what blessed people do and receive. In many instances, a positive thing returns a positive outlook. This specific thought gets me. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the (children) of God. Not much in our current climate compels me to think that many people are trying the route of peace. People want conditional everything but refuse to examine their role in causing peace to reign. Sometimes peace is not achieved by maintaining the status quo. It is achieved by causing fractured and broken systems to die that better can be achieved for all.
3. We are to find the spirit along with the truth. Jesus was challenged when healing on the sabbath a man who was lame for 38 years. The law teaches that nothing should happen on the Sabbath. Jesus brings to the minds of the detractors what does the Sabbath really mean. Jesus suggests that the shalom (wholeness) of God is not happening. Therefore, Sabbath is not happening either. When the Sabbath happened on the seventh day of creation, it was only after everything was stamped as “good”(complete). Nobody will experience true Sabbath while other areas of life are in shambles. So Jesus chooses to still work until it was achieved. The law is meaningless without recognition of the depth of the spirit’s revelation of the truth.
Take the time to see how to effectively apply the power of this Gospel for those who need a fresh move and experience with an unfiltered God.