Monday, February 28, 2011

Keeping it Real

There is a common retort when people in the hood feel caught with a Hobson's choice: "I ain't gotta do nothing but stay black and die." Well glory be to God that we are not bound by either.  First of all, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Scratch off death. Secondly, God is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11). Natural affinities and cultural affiliations must be secondary to identification with Christ. Off with the blackness.

One of my pet peeves is when race is given primacy over faith. As a result, any practice is considered acceptable in the church if it has roots in Africa or a descendant thereof. If Farrakhan says Jesus was just a prophet, pastors fall in line and let him proclaim it from their pulpits.
No one denying the divinity of Christ has any business feeding his sheep. Period. Shame on any pastor who allows them to do so. I remember being seduced by Farrakhan's rhetoric when he used to visit my college campus. He had me worked up until he got to the part about Jesus. He never came out and said it directly, but would lead excitable coeds astray if they were willing to go the distance with his brand of Nationalism. Pastors also need to check so-called Christian ministers who do not affirm the trinity regardless of how many spectators (and $$$) their visits attract. 

More recently Negroes hearing of African traditions of throwing money at the altar go wild, pulling money out their wallets with reckless abandon, and fling it at the preacher. Have they not that God is a not a God of chaos, but of order (I Corinthians 14:33)?

Don't get me started with the syncretic teachings of celebrity spiritualists that babes in faith soak up like sponges. Everything that feels good is not good for you. Do not treat prophecies with contempt, but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil (I Thessalonians 5:20-22). Hold every teaching in the light of the gospel. If it fails that test, it's got to go. I don't care who is delivering the message or what their complexion is.

Christ is sufficient for faith with no additives, fillers, or substitutes. There is no need to pick up a Koran, perform any unbiblical rituals, or watch Oprah to become enlightened. There is also no need to have your intelligence insulted by bad theology that is nowhere to be found in bible or to tolerate all manner of malfeasance and tomfoolery because the preacher’s robe is adorned with kente cloth.

As we close another Black History Month, I implore you to keep it real with the One who has brought us this far by faith. It was the risen Christ who affirmed the humanity of slaves and empowered blacks throughout the Diaspora to transcend their plight. How is it that we have gotten so weak in our realization of the redemption? If you keep it real with him, he'll keep it real with you.  Continue to fall for the okeydoke and you will keep getting what you have gotten.

One of my darkest seasons came as I was being oppressed in the black church for not succumbing to sexual harassment and social control. I was caught in the trap of thinking that I needed not only to align myself with those with whom I shared culture and history, but also to protect my oppressors because they too were the victim of oppression. In hindsight, it was classic Stockholm syndrome. No one has the right to oppress anyone. Jesus said "For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:50). When a community breaks faith with you, it’s time to bounce.

I recall as clear as day the moment God called me out of my all black denomination while attending seminary in Atlanta and led me to a all white congregation that I had passed many days without a second glance. I didn't have much expectation of the experience. These old white people in Georgia can't be holy. Look at what they did to Martin Luther King. 

However, my soul was nurtured back to health by a preacher who broke the bread fresh like he was breaking it off just for me.  I was also skeptical of the members motives for accepting me, not recognizing Jesus enrobed in differently-hued flesh. When I returned to DC after graduation, it was like I had been to spiritual detox.

America has made great strides in racial integration in my lifetime. Unfortunately, the church has not led the way. How diverse is your congregation? Blacks do not have a lock on the gospel, though some would like to lead you to believe such. And no, the white man’s religion is not holier. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. (John 4:23). That, my friends, is real!


  1. Great article as usual! I have found myself turned off by church after church in the area, chock full of false prophets and an even more false sense of entitlement. I have consistently used your articles for spiritual dialogue with my little one, other family and friends for interesting and uplifting fellowship. Keep on "Keeping It Real"!!!!!

  2. You have blessed my heart today! Thank you for your kind words. We all know what it is, but few have the courage to speak and act on it. God will not be mocked. Keep keeping it real yourself!!!

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