Whatever attributes, attainments or accolades credited to black Americans, Christianity and the spirited, homogenous churches we were compelled from bigotry to form are going to be identified with us until the Lord returns! As much as the distinctive pigment of our skin, physical features and abilities, Christianity and our churches are an inseparable part of Black History. This trilogy of black Americans, Christianity and churches is yet another of our self-made accomplishments to hear many especially black liberals in willful ignorance tell it. However, in a biblical worldview the trilogy exists at all because of a gracious God who is not pleased with the failures and apostasy of His glory stealers!
The faith of our Christian forefathers from slavery is a precious historical reality I never tire of celebrating and trumpeting as widely as possible. As the Lord leads me to warn once again this Black History Month though, their Christian faith was supposed to flower into an amazing community-wide testimony of and to His glory, not ours as the contemporary black Americans that are guilty would have it. For black Americans to glory in Christianity as a construction of our doing in any part, it would actually have to be the case. To the extent this is the case, it is wickedly not of God, but the responsible black Americans as a work of human religious invention as I have written before.1
The Henry Louis Gates, Jr. written, produced and hosted two-part documentary, The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song that aired this past week on PBS is the most recent display of self-congratulation and glorying in Christianity as a religious invention of blacks. This purpose can be read in the promotional statement on the documentary’s official Web Site before ever watching it. In part it says, “The documentary reveals how Black people have worshipped and, through their spiritual journeys, improvised ways to bring their faith traditions from Africa to the New World, while translating them into a form of Christianity that was not only truly their own...”2
Even a superficial reading of the Bible’s New Testament makes it clear Christianity did not originate with any mortal ethnicity, but God! As it is written, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth” expressly identified as “Jesus Christ,” (John 1:1, 14-18, NKJV). Sent down to earth by God the Father in love, He preached the Gospel that willing mankind can be saved from our sins, receive new birth, eternal life and entry into His Kingdom through repentance and faith in Him (John 3:1-21, 34-36).
The Lord’s first coming is the culminating fulfillment of prophetic promises made through and to the Jewish people as one of them (Matthew 1:1-17). Even so, His message of salvation and the Kingdom from the Father by His sovereign will transcends His Jewish ethnicity and their historic culture (John 14:6, 18:35-38) to reach all of the ethnicities, tribes and languages of mankind on the earth (Isaiah 49:5-6)! Indeed, Christ declared on the strength of who He is and the course of His work, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:13-18, NKJV) and after His death, burial and resurrection, tasked apostles to labor with Him before ascending back to Heaven (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:4-11).
Now, if Christianity and the Church are of Christ, where does any ethnicity of man except the Jews as the original recipients, beneficiaries and conduits for disseminating the Gospel get off attempting to lay claim to these as their own (Romans 1:1-17, 9:1-5)? Surely, the Lord knew the faith would face tremendous pressures to be culturally conditioned as it was spread throughout the earth and in the worst case, corrupted, from the counter working of Satan as it did still in the first century. For this reason, His apostles sternly warn all who embrace the faith against altering it or His Word in any manner (Galatians 1:1-10, 5:1-15; 2 Peter 2:1-3, 3:14-18; Revelation 22:18-19).
Otherwise, God who created mankind and ordained diversity of skin pigment, physical features, abilities, languages and unique ethnic cultures is glorified when they “in spirit and truth” offer up thanksgiving, praise and worship to Him for His great salvation with faithfulness to the Word and obedience (John 4:21-26, 14:15; Acts 17:24-29; Romans 15:7-13, 16:17-27, NKJV)! The faithful among these peoples never forget or lose sight of the fact it is God in grace and mercy that found and saved them through the Gospel of Christ! His Person is to be exalted and His transcendent holy Word, Kingdom principles, values, morals and ethics held in highest esteem over anything they might think, feel, believe or do culturally. In short, they do not allow their culture to overcome the faith.3
1 Read the two-part post beginning February 8, 2015, Strong Through God, Not Religion, under the category, Black History.
2 See the full promotional statement at https://pbs.org/weta/black-church/.
3 This is as I write in my book, The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics, in a word to pastors. Published by Open Door Communication Ministries, Inc., the book is available
in print or digital formats at major internet booksellers. You can also purchase a print copy in the Strong Man Store.
My wife and I have only occasionally done anything special for each other on Valentine’s Day mainly because it comes so close after our February 7th wedding anniversary when we typically celebrate our love and marriage. This year, it was a very special 40th wedding anniversary for us. We were so young 40 years ago. Since then, we have learned the difference between romantic love which rises and ebbs like ocean tides and love as steadfast, settled commitment that endures through the toughest of challenges. God, who created man male and female, gave us both kinds of love to enjoy for a lifetime (Genesis 1:26-28; Song Of Solomon 4; 1 Corinthians 7:1-5; Ephesians 5:22-33).
Marital love between a man and a woman is of God’s greatest gifts to mankind (Genesis 2:18-25). I can say this not only in agreement with the general tenor of Scripture, but from my life experience. Before marriage as an unsaved teenager and not much better 1977 young adult new Christian, I was shamefully guilty of mistreating, lying to, cheating on and misusing the females I dated and/or went steady with. There was love, but it was very selfish and rooted too often in the temporary pleasures of lust. After fully surrendering to Christ in 1979 and later marriage as a lifetime commitment to one and oneness, I was forced by His will in His Word to change (Ephesians 4:17-32).
Because of the foregoing and after talking with my wife, we agreed that there are two major reasons we celebrate our love today to the glory of God and offer them as helpful instruction for especially younger engaged and married couples that read this. First, we purposely put Jesus Christ as Lord into and over our marriage and urge you to do the same. Second, we took divorce off the table for any reason except adultery or desertion as Scripture allows and urge you to do the same (Mark 10:1-12; 1 Corinthians 7:10-16). Every other issue that arises in marriage can be worked through because of the first reason we gave even if it requires involving professionals to help.
After the first couple’s fall, marriage as God designed it brings together two sinful mortal human beings that are by nature selfish and more often than not raised with different worldviews, values etc. It then requires that they in the bonds of mutual committed love blend their lives together as one. As the history of marital misery and divorce attest, sinful mankind has not done well with God’s perfect design of marriage (Proverbs 19:13; Malachi 2:13-16). As one example of what Christ can do when He is invited in and submitted to as Lord, He by the Spirit is able to renew each party’s mind about love as He has done us--selfish it is not (Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)! We do not have a perfect marriage, but with the Lord’s help we are still celebrating our love 40 years later.
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