Thursday, March 20, 2008
Where Do We Go From Here - Repent
So where do we go from here? The speech has been given and with it the initial comments regarding Obama, Rev. Wright, the Black church, black people and of course the senator’s political future. Most seemed to think it was at least a very good speech, some an excellent one, still others a landmark one, while others dismissed it a merely a political one. As I reflect on the speech, the events that led up to it and the historic candidacy that set the stage for it a thousand and one thoughts flood my mind. For instance I wonder if those white people who chose to comment on the speech spoke to any African-American friends about their reaction to it? I also wonder if they have any black friends or even acquaintances with whom they can have an ongoing discussion about the issues Senator Obama addressed? But that’s water under the bridge or whatever the saying is.
For us (and by us I mean black people) the issue is where do we go from here. So far most of the reflections I’ve read regarding the speech center on how it will impact Senator Obama’s political ambitions. I’ve not heard or read much in the way of how this could present the country with yet another opportunity to talk about the ways ethnicity impacts the existence of all who live in this society. Whether this speech will propel us into a national dialogue on race, reconciliation and harmony remains to be seen. Though this particular time is unique we have had other chances to engage in such a discussion and failed to do so. For that reason I wouldn’t recommend that African-Americans hold our collective breath and wait for white folks to continue the process of moving toward some form of genuine ethnic harmony.
So where do we go from here and how do we begin? The first place to start is with repentance to the Creator and Redeemer of the world Jesus Christ. What’s this have to do with our current struggles in America? Perhaps little. However, no matter how great the obstacles before us in this country they pail when compared to the reality that we’ve offended a holy God who will not allow us to use racism as an excuse for rebellion. I’ve written it before and it’s worth saying again that our main problem is not with white people or a racialized society. Our main problem is that we are not in a right relationship with God and further He will not accept us as righteous simply because we happen to have been black, poor and oppressed. We must repent and turn to the living God through Jesus Christ not as a means to the end of a better life here and now but as an end in and of itself. We must repent because God commands it and will most certainly judge those who refuse to repent.
But what about the life we live in the here and now? What good is pie in the sky if the white man is still living large while our communities crumble under the weight of the lingering effects of racism? Our life here and now is dominated by the pursuit of God’s eternal kingdom. And what will that look like? First and foremost it will move us into an ongoing experience of Spirit-filled, God-honoring and Christ-centered worship. Being the subjects of His kingdom means that we make the worship of the King our top priority. We organize our lives around the supreme privilege and sacred responsibility of worship. Bowing to our King and shepherd in worship is right because He’s commanded us to do so. And in the end we are accountable to Him for our lives and not ourselves. Worship also reminds us that we are people created in God’s image and thus cannot find definitive satisfaction in a materialistic lifestyle. For us the pinnacle of liberation is not achieving the American dream and the respect of white people, but in discovering the blessedness of bowing our hearts before our Creator in genuine, Christ-centered worship. Additionally, worship helps us to recall that the substance of our humanity isn’t determined by what white people think of or do to us. This frees us from waiting for them to acknowledge our collective hurt and pain, which for many of us is the way they could acknowledge our humanity.
Finally, worship moves us to long for a new and better reality. While we recognize that things aren’t where we wish them to be, we praise God that they’re not where they used to be. And yet we must know by now that this world, this country and the white people in it do not hold the key to our total and lasting healing, hope, love and destiny. Would it be nice to live in a more racially harmonious society? Yes, it would. Should we pin all of our hopes that we’ll ever live in such a society? No, the hope we have can never be grounded in people no matter how well meaning they are. No our confidence in a better future rests solely in the gracious nail imprinted hands of Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood.
To Him Who Loves Us…