This is a Taste of The Taboo Truth
In one of the last scenes of Spike Lee’s powerful and pensive yet entertaining film X, the character of Malcolm X, played by Denzel Washington, voices a very strong statement at the realization that his co-laborers had been crooked and hypocritical while professing the truth that he wholeheartedly subscribed to and ultimately saved and changed his very life.
He says something along the lines of , “we had the greatest organization for the Black man in the world and they messed it up.” Though he was speaking about the Nation of Islam in America in the sixties, I agree and feel as emphatically saddened and disheartened about the state of the African American church today as the sentiment that Denzel ingenuously portrayed in the dramatization. The mode and means by which most Christian based African American churches operate today is probably a disgrace and discredit to the name of Christ. The lack of effectiveness and alignment with the true mission of Christ to cause people to live and live abundantly could even be labeled as blasphemy. If we can use a studying skill that the church should teach, and look beyond the surface or mundane definition of blasphemy, then maybe we can realize that cursing God is more than with your lips, but rather includes using your life to defame or discount his name and what it stands for. By Webster’s definition, to blaspheme is to speak impiously or irreverently of God or to speak evil of; slander; abuse. Well, if you look at many predominantly Black communities in America where they are saturated with churches on every corner as well as overflowing with people inside those churches, don’t we see a majority of people living in substandard conditions as it relates to their own finance, employment, emotional stability, relationships, freedom and happiness, amongst other things?
Yet, we profess to serve the God who knows, owns and controls all things. Is this not a baffling enigma to anyone? Well, it is indeed baffling to me, though not a an enigma, because I understand, if not totally, pragmatically why it is so. The African American church has great stake in why the African American community is not as far along as it should be. We have misused and abused our authority and influence as the single most influential institution in our community in juxtaposition with the public school system by failing to adequately educate our adults and children in the informal learning environment of the church. After a mere and sincere hope and blind faith carried our ancestors through slavery wherein they many times had to clandestinely hold their own church services or worship attempts, the African American church was dedicated to meeting the immediate needs of ex-slaves teaching them life management skills to survive and thrive in their newly freed states and all with Biblical backing. Today’s Black church, however, is a far cry from such practicality and functionality of service. It seems that we fail to realize that people are in desperate need for practical, sustainable and applicable information to help them manage their lives and they trust the church to give it to them. Oftentimes, parishioners waste valuable time and opportunity in church congregations where they are inflated with false and empty hopes by emotionalism embedded in quirky cliches. Here lies a prime and common example that I am all too familiar with: in an emotionally high and charged atmosphere of singing, dancing, shouting, etc. the preacher shouts emphatically to the congregation “It’s Your Season.
Tell your neighbor, its my season!!!! Go slap three other people and tell them, It’s my season.” Well, the majority of the congregation is caught up in the moment and overcome with emotion and expectation while many of them don’t even know what the definition and full concept of what a season really is. They don’t know exactly what season it is; the season for growth, purging, harvesting, etc.? When the “season” does not yield what they have superficially been conditioned to expect then they become even more disappointed, discouraged, disillusioned, disgruntled and dejected than ever.
The Bible admonishes how pertinent it is to have control over emotions rather than letting them have control over you. With that in mind as well as the knowledge of African American people being a very emotive people, it would be wise that preachers and other people of influence with platforms, would use this insight as a teaching tool rather than a way to exploit masses with known and unknown ignorance, personal agendas and ulterior motives. My adopted father used to often challenge me, speaking more Bible than he probably was even aware of, saying, “some people run their mouths and some people run their business…which one are you or what you gon’ do?” Well, Solomon, one of the wisest men to ever live, along with many others in the Bible, spoke often about talking too much and working too little. So in accordance with the words that two very influential men in my life, I agree that we must learn to not only honor God with our lips but with our lives primarily, utmost and foremost. It has been said that we are the only race of people who relinquish the education of our children to the public school system. An even sadder reality which compounds this issue is that we have not used the platform and significant amount of influence hallmarked by the church to build principles and practice which allows for growth and well being in our community.
The lack of sound teaching is clearly evident and palpable when we look at the condition of the people in the church as well as around the church seeing as how many churches have very minimal, weak, ineffective or non-existent outreach efforts, which are oftentimes not more far reaching than the members and their families. Verbal praise, encouragement, exhortation, prayer, dance and all other forms of emotional worship to God are vital and very necessary for the life and relationship of a believer but should be only the beginning or a portion of expressions of our faith. When we use our mouths, hands and entire bodies to praise God inside the church by dancing, singing, praying, preaching and teaching inside the church building, we should be able to use our gifts, talents, professions, checkbooks, connections and relationships amongst other resources to glorify God by feeding, nurturing, repairing, constructing and empowering outside the church walls. It is now the time that we honor and obey the very words of Jesus by articulating, illustrating and facilitating the Love of God in an excellent way in all that we do. When we begin to “show” forth the true praises of God rather than just shouting them, we will gain the respect of our own disinterested and apathetic youth, those who we are commissioned to serve and other races and persuasions of people. After all, we cannot blame them for their avoidance of the church because the scripture clearly suggests that people flee from those who have only a form of Godliness but deny the power thereof (II Tim 3:5), basically saying don’t waste your time your trust your soul to those who talk a good game but have nothing to show for it or back it up. The renown leadership guru, John C. Maxwell even conceded that as a pastor, “I made the mistake that many pastors make: preaching sermons that were going nowhere. I began to understand that people don’t do what people hear but people do what people see. The only thing that makes my vision casting effective is if I back it up with my life.” People are attracted to power and results and we who serve the omnipotent God should have no issues in displaying such especially when that is our vocal profession of faith or “claim to fame.”
Victoria Green is a local writer and more of her work can be found at www.womanofsubstanceladyofstyle.org