By Vernon A. Williams, Gary Crusader
Jesus is real.
This is not an op-ed or columnist point of view. This is not merely voicing perspective. This is not a hypothesis or theory. This is not a theological claim. This is not a topic of debate. It is a fact.
I have no time or interest in persuading anyone. This declaration does not rely on affirmation or consensus. There is no need for counterpoints or arguments to temper my testimony. The Christ is all that’s real today – believe it or not.
Last year around this time, I had a final conversation with lifetime friend Lanel Roosevelt Chambers at Gary school’s radio station WGVE. It was a Saturday afternoon and I was heading back home after an overnight stay in G.I.
I’ve shared the story of how the stop by was unplanned yet compelled, that it was supposed to be a five or 10 minute pit stop but turned into almost two hours of reflection, conjecture and just warm conversation between brothers.
Lanel and I reflected on childhood, comparing our generation to that of the new millennium. At some point, we pondered: “What happened? Why are so many young people today so ruthless, so cold?” With his customary stoic calm, he opined, “The difference was, we went to Sunday School.”
The profundity yet simplicity of his instant analysis was stunning. Sunday School is where children regularly meet Jesus, learn to love their neighbor, get introduced to prayer and start practicing faith.
Lanel and I confessed that we were no angels as boys growing up in Gary – far from it. Still, there were lines that we would not cross. There were boundaries that kept us from going too far (most of the time). We never even thought thoughts of the kind of guttural utterances many children today express to adults – with little reservation or remorse.
Times have changed. That perception is not just a figment of the imagination of men trying to glamorize the past. Consider this. In 1980, there were 143,000 Black men in prison in the U.S. and 463,700 enrolled in college. By 2000, the script flipped to 791,600 African American males in prison with 532,000 in college.
It would be intellectually dishonest not to acknowledge the adverse influence of socioeconomic challenges, proliferation of drugs in the community, abusive treatment by both law enforcement and the judicial system, and the prioritization of big business. All these factors try to set us Black Americans up for failure. It has never been easy for us.
We have managed to deal with broken families, relegation to ‘last hired and first fired status,’ lack of social access, policies of oppression, complicated by self-contempt, institutional racism, bigotry, prejudice and blatant disregard for our humanity at every level of society.
Faith and strength in the Lord were the only solutions. This is no time to allow doubt to distract us. We understand better than anyone on the planet what it means to hear someone say Jesus can make “a way out of no way.” When our backs have been against the wall, prayer was our only weapon. Believers find that they need no more.
We don’t have enough space to convey a fraction of what Jesus has done in life. The joy is that the blessings never end. Whether you call it Easter or Resurrection Sunday, the culmination of Holy Week is as good of a time as any to say, “Thank you, Lord!”
Jesus is real. Accept or reject it. God gives us free will. Jesus does not rely on our acceptance. He came to prevent us from perishing, offering rather eternal life.
The unsettling mood brought about by worries in the nation’s capital – that’s fake. Feeling badly because you don’t measure up to other’s expectations – that’s fake. Success based on money is fake. Basing beauty on what’s on the outside of people is fake. Sadness over disloyal or ungrateful friends or family is fake. Worry over what the future has in store for you is fake.
Jesus is real! And He is still the answer. His blood shed on Calvary still heals, protects and covers us all from day to day. Blessed is the name of the living God!
CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].