Thursday, August 23, 2007
Ain't I A Man?
Alright I know I have some Cosby show fans out there. Not many but perhaps but at least a few. There was this one episode that centered around Claire Huxtable. She was asked to participate in one of those early Sunday morning political talk shows. It was one of those shows that featured three middle aged white guys who discussed the issues of the day from their point of view. Claire liked the show and was thrilled when they asked her to join the discussion. She showed up brimming with enthusiasm and it didn’t take long for her to wade into the fray.
However, after a few exchanges it was clear that something was amiss.
While Claire had some interesting things to say on world and national events it was apparent that the old boys club didn’t want her wit and insight, but only her blackness. She was to be the dash of pepper that added some spice to their salt talks. A splash of chocolate to enliven their plain vanilla exchanges. But to her credit Claire refused to be ghettoized. That didn’t mean that she had nothing to say concerning how present events affected some African-Americans (believe it or not we really aren’t all alike) just that there was more to her and her views than her blackness.
I think of that episode now and then when reflecting what it’s like to be black and reformed. On the one hand I hope that there is some perspective I can bring to the church concerning impacting the black community with reformed theology. At the same time I also have perspectives on culture, life, politics, sports, history, marriage, theology, ministry and yes Star Trek. I’m concerned that the back to school craze may encourage crass consumerism among preteens, that we may not have a real solution for Iraq and that the Eagles still won’t be able to stop the run. I’m concerned about being a good, godly husband to my wife, the growing presence of Islam in my community and the spiritual well-being of the few souls I’m charged to pastor. I care about the violence in my city, the gradual but real drift of black folks away from biblical Christianity, how I can improve my crock-pot cooking, and do we really need another Star Trek movie.
Yes, I’d like to speak on the issues of the black community and how they affect our worship of God, walk before God and witness of God. But I’d also like to speak on God’s sovereignty, His holiness, steadfast love, immutability, grace and wisdom. I don’t want my white brothers to confine me to only addressing ‘black’ issues. I’d prefer not to be asked just to speak on the subjects of justice, mercy and racial reconciliation but realize that I should do so because I am apart of the entire body of Christ, not just the black part. I don’t want to attend black reformed conferences where we just talk about how black we are, how different from whites we are and what they need to do to include us. I enjoyed immensely the time I spoke to some of our Korean brothers and sisters on the topic of gospel change and a few weeks back when I spoke to the brothers and sisters of Tenth PCA on the subject of God’s salvation from Genesis 12. That’s one of the reasons I really appreciate brothers like Ken Jones, Thabiti Anyabwile and Tony Carter. Every pastor (black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Jew, Arab or Klingon) can benefit from what our fellow elder has been writing concerning the surprising sources joy in pastoral ministry. Every man (married and hoping to marry) can be blessed from brother Carter’s Top Ten Ways to Keep Your Marriage Full of Joy and Hope. And every believer (black or white) can challenged and encouraged by listening to Ken Jones along with the other brothers on the White Horse Inn.
I once heard an interview with Sidney Poitier. It appeared to be some kind of a press conference and the journalist continued to pepper him with questions that only concerned his being a black actor. At one point Mr. Poitier declared that yes he was a black man and black actor. But he was also a son, husband, citizen and father. His humanity most definitely includes, was shaped by and influenced by the reality that he was black, but it didn’t end there. And neither does mine.
To Him Who Loves Us...