By Vernon A. Williams, Gary Crusader
Black churches must rekindle its role in forging social change. This weekend the Christian community observes Easter, what others refer to as Resurrection Sunday, celebrating the fact that Jesus Christ rose three days after crucifixion to save the world from sin.
I won’t waste time in this brief space debating whether Christ is the Living God or that Jesus is the only name by which one can be saved. Either you accept it or don’t. One of the blessings from the Lord is freewill which gives you the right to be wrong.
This is not about theology. This focus is on strategy, methodology, and logistics. You don’t have to be a plumber to realize the urgency of plugging a leak – or an electrician to recognize the danger of exposed wiring dangling precariously from a power line in the path of pedestrians on a city sidewalk. Some things are just common sense.
Likewise, no spiritual or intellectual “buy in” to Christianity or any other religion is required to comprehend the concept that the church in the U.S. today is one of the single most powerful and least unused weapons against oppression, bigotry, injustice, discrimination and human suffering.
Traipsing into the pews every week singing, shouting, dancing, speaking in tongue and running in the spirit – without a clue to what your congregation is doing to impact those Christ calls “the least of mine” – renders your praise hollow and hypocritical.
The question is, what are you and your church doing the other six days of a week to make a difference. Sanctimonious worship alone is not enough. Don’t take my word for it:
James 2:14-26 (NKJV) 14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
If men and women of God in your congregation fail to transform word into work, then you may be following a false prophet. Service is largely defined by how the blessed of us help the rest of us and the Black church should be more creative in leading by example.
Church is the one place that assembles masses of Black Americans on a consistent basis. The power of the pulpit is unmatched. Had it not been for the Black church historically, there would have been no racial progress in America. The urgency of today commands a return to similarly zealous clergy leadership assuming the highest responsibility as agents of change.
Cynics dismiss the notion, turning a deaf ear to any religious remedy because of their contempt for what they consider unholy clergy – spouting self-righteous condemnation. Some can’t get past the air of arrogance and elitism among worshippers in some sanctuaries. Many are outraged by the opulence of some church leaders in the face of impoverished members.
Demagoguery aside, desperate times require desperate measures; graphically evidenced by a recent Facebook post of a Ku Klux Klansman – in full, deplorable, white hooded-robe regalia – outstretched on a gurney while an African American ER surgeon struggled to stop his bleeding. Reasonable thinkers can distinguish the help from the helper, the seed from the source.
The Black church must serve as the primary forum for organizations designed to address pressing needs of our community – the primary impetus for facilitating knowledge and actions of African Americans when it comes to economics, health, education, law and justice, political awareness, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, art and culture, science and technology, and the nurturing of our children through strengthening Black families.
Waiting for the oppressor to free you from oppression is like climbing into the lion’s den to seek directions if you ever got lost in the zoo. It makes absolutely no sense and the outcome is predictable. Conversely, in order to achieve liberation, each of us must contribute on every level and the church should be at the nucleus, at the forefront, the vanguard of revolution.
Matthew 25: 35-40 (KJV) reads: 35 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat : I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink : I was a stranger, and ye took me in :36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord when saw we thee…40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
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.
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