(This Post was originally released October 2018)
3 Anecdotes about Racism in the Church
From them you will be:
But my friends, this is where it begins. With you and me (IN THE CHURCH) looking honestly at the issue.
Where are you in these 3 stories?
Below are 3 ways of dealing with racism:
The Right Way
The Wrong Way
The Typical Way
THE RIGHT WAY
The first time I saw this sidewalk insert, I eagerly sought the story.
The broken part of the sidewalk says,
AN HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL PEOPLE
As the story goes, that part of the sidewalk had been there since the church was built at this location in 1892.
But, in the mid 60’s someone asked, “a bit too loudly” if all people were welcome, as the sign said.
Nobody answered, but the next week the sidewalk-sign was gone, replaced by a blank slab of cement.
Sometime late in the 90’s, in its broken state, it was returned to the sidewalk to proudly show that, YES, All People are welcome.
That it lies there in a broken state tells its own story, don’t you think?
THE WRONG WAY
A few years ago I did a 4 night prayer revival during the Obama administration. The associate pastor of the host church continually talked down the President. And frankly, it got up my nose.
I asked the Lord for a very tactful way to deal with it, and so the next night I pulled him aside and delivered what I believe the Lord laid upon my heart. It turned out to be so significant that I included it in both Book 1 and Book 2 of The Pray-ers.
Instead of giving you the conversation with this pastor, let me quote Alexander Rich, the itinerant preacher in my novel, who dealt with the exact same issue, just 130 years earlier, EXACTLY the way I did.
“. . . Alexander Rich continued. “You believe in the flood right?”
“Oh yes!” The preacher responded, “Worldwide disaster, worldwide flood.”
“Then,” Rich interrupted, glad at least that this young pastor had not caved to the growing debate about the age of the earth and the truth of the first eleven chapters of Genesis. “Then, my friend, if we all came from the same parents, do you know what that means?”
Brother Rich had the young man’s complete attention. He leaned forward, intrigued, eyes widening, and awaiting a deep truth.
“What that means my young racist friend is that you have a little black guy inside of you somewhere.”
Sorry for the shameless plug (www.ThePray-ers.com).
When I said this to the pastor, it shut him up, but only until the next day when he returned. I am sorry to share with you what he said, but I think you need to hear it.
He cornered me after the service and then said, “They may be your relatives but they aren’t mine.”
No matter the amount of melanin in your skin, you and I BOTH have people in our lives that think this way.
THE TYPICAL WAY
I was in another church for an all day intensive. At lunch, the pastor and I talked about the feedback he was getting from the Sunday School and Worship Services that I led. The feedback was a great blessing, and so after lunch we sat down, prayed about it and decided that I needed to come back for an all week prayer revival.
A few days later he called me. We chit-chatted for a few minutes and then he said, as broken as I have ever heard him, “Mark, my deacons said that you can’t come back, you’re too dark.”
Now BEFORE YOU GET excersised over this anecdote, let me remind you, this happens on ALL SIDES of the issue, Asian, Hispanic, White and Black.
True, there are some churches I can’t get into because I am too dark.
But there are other churches I can’t get into because I’m not dark enough.
Is it any wonder that Sunday is the most segregated day of the week?
Whose Fault Is Racism
Obviously we can point our fingers at the deception of the evil one. But may I take this question in a slightly different direction?
Let me make a broad statement, that you may or may not agree has some merit.
“The unsaved can’t be expected to act like anything other than what they are, UNSAVED!”
QUIT LOOKING AT THE WORLD, expecting them to act differently!
But what about the church? My friends, in the church, we are the ones without excuse. Why? Because:
We are the ones that have the Holy Spirit living within us. And,
We are the one’s who have been given the grace to live above this.
Consider this. Do you think that maybe God loves us enough to discipline us?
If He does, it will NOT be:
Because the unsaved are acting like the unsaved.
Rather, it will be:
Because the church is NOT acting like the church?
May God have mercy upon us, in spite of us.
ADDED IN 2022
One of the Congressmen I pray with in DC (https://markmirza.com/?s=washington+dc) likes to say, after I have said, “We, the church, are the problem.”
“Yes, Mark, but we are also the solution.”
Mr friend, who else has the courage to speak, what you have just stated, in pulpits…. Over the past several years, I have learned that racism within the Church of GOD is Still extremely prevalant. Add politics in with racism, then you have an extremely ineffective Body of Christ within the USA. Only a very few church leaders are willing to state & preach the truth in this area as you’ve stated above.
Lastly, some of the church leaders who do address the embedded problem, do so in an erroneous, further devisive manner. Yes, may GOD have mercy on us & transform our hearts.
My brother, I appreciate you not being ashamed of the Gospel & not being afraid to to speak it & live it out.
Thank you Shane. Honored to serve.
Mark: That pastor is continuing the problem by letting his deacons dictate who can and cannot speak/preach at the church. I don’t care if the deacons are reflecting comments from church members. No one involved seems to know the messages Christ left us, especially about LOVE. I don’t know anything about the pastor. He must think of you well enough to have invited you, but I wonder where he stands with the Gospel.
Peace. I hope your ministry is going well.
And Patrick, you are right. It is a point of frustration that many deal with, which reminds me so often to not forget Ephesians 6:12, that my struggle isn’t with flesh and blood.
Blessings my friend.