Monday, January 16

Of Racism and Savannah, Georgia

I'm in downtown Savannah at 6:30 AM on Martin Luther King, Jr Day. Further, I'm in the Thunderbird Inn, a refurbished kick-back to the old outdoor hotels I remember from the sixties. We spent the night here because it got good ratings and it was cheap. Yesterday, my wife and I enjoyed visiting with two fellow ministers and plan to meet them later this morning for breakfast here at J. Christophers.

"Precious In God's Sight" AND Ours?
The old song we sang in Sunday School saw racism rightly. "Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red, and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight." Yes, they are. But many of the same churches that had their children singing this song were practicing segregation! 

There's to be a march today at 10:00 in honor of MLK, Jr. Streets will be blocked off (including ours it seems). Good thing we can walk to our restaurant! One cannot be a true believer without thinking hard about all the cultural "Christian" inconsistencies, the evils perpetrated, or at least tolerated by the church over the years. Down south, one still feels latent tension from the days of segregation. Last night, while talking over a nice chicken salad sandwich, Phyllis (my wife) reminded us of Morgan Freeman's comment about racism. He said something to the effect that racism would likely be reduced much if we'd just stop talking about it. Well, being African-American himself (and having lived a little bit of life) it would seem he has justification for what he says. Still, I understand why we suffer from such cultural maladies and it's not because one group is better than another. It's because the heart of man is as Jeremiah said long ago, "sinful above all things and desperately wicked; who can understand it?" (17:9) We have an almost insatiable need to vaunt ourselves over others, to laud ourselves as superior to someone else, or to another group of people. It evidences itself as we all know in racism as well as in nationalism. How many wars would've been averted had there been no nationalistic spirit prompting it?

Well, I remember working construction one summer in the early 70's and an old black gentleman labored alongside this college-aged student. Shelton (never forgot his name) called me "sir." Yep, left-overs from former days. I turned red and told him that he was my senior, and if anyone was to be called "sir" it would be him, not me! At that I think he felt as awkward as did I. But I couldn't allow that. It wasn't right. Now his son was of a  different nature. He was "black and proud." I don't think he liked white people very much at all. Neither attitude was healthy. I just wanted to scream out, we're people. That's it! Years of abuse had taken their toll. I know it affected all of us just the same. Racism becomes ingrained without thinking.

Things are better today. At least I think they are. Yes, we can overcome a lot of this foolishness, as Morgan Freeman said, by simply not talking about it all the time. But more importantly, vastly so, we must see all peoples through the eyes of the Creator. He created us all. And when Jesus came into this world, he suffered, bled, died and rose again from the dead in order to save whoever would call upon him. "Red, and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight." Indeed. Then we best not call the precious anything but what the Lord calls them, precious. No one deserves saving. No one! So, if any is ever saved, it will have been by the sheer grace of God. And it is incumbent upon those who have received God's rich grace to most show that same grace to others. That should be obvious to every true Christian. Perhaps it IS understood by TRUE Christians. So, which are you?

We enjoy staying in this kick-back of a hotel. They even have Krispy-Kreme doughnuts! But I don't want to go back to the days of racial hatred. That's one thing we best leave behind, but not forget entirely. Let's remember how frail is our flesh, how prone to exalt ourselves over another human being made in the image of God! Let us humble ourselves in His sight. As Paul said to the Corinthian church, "Who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?" (1 Cor. 4:7). Good question. How we answer it will indicate far more than just our attitude, it may also indicate our eternal destiny!

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