Friday, July 15, 2016

Things I Heard In A Sermon This Week That Bothered Me

The sermon to which I am referring was preached on the text of Acts 4, after the events of the week of July 4th, 2016.

"I wrote this message on Wednesday, before the world went to hell this week."

Alton Sterling's death happened Tuesday evening. Philando Castille was killed Wednesday evening. Five Dallas police officers were killed on Thursday. Unless we are favoring the lives of police officers over black men, the "world started going to hell" this week on Tuesday (and far, far before that for Americans of color). 

"America is the greatest country on earth. If you don't believe me, you haven't traveled."

In what respects? To whom is it the greatest country on earth? It was founded on the backs of slaves and mistreatment of indigenous people who were already living here, many whose communities were destroyed. I'm not sure what's so great about that. On a personal note, as a young mom, I'd much rather live in a country that offered paid parental leave, though that's a little off topic here. 

"The police of the day, the people in power of the day, the Sadduccees have them arrested. See what believers do - they submit to authority. We need to submit to authority even when they get it wrong..."

So, even if authorities take us down for no other reason than that we are wearing clothing traditional to our country and speaking our native tongue on a cell phone - even then we should submit? I suppose that makes sense if we don't want to take the risk of being killed, but sometimes even when you submit to authorities, you end up dead. This bothers me most especially, however, in that not even Peter and John were submissive to the authorities of their day (in the text that was used for this sermon), who commanded them (v. 18) not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. Their response? "As for us, we cannot help but speaking about what we have seen and heard." Basically, a big "#sorrynotsorry - what God commands is far more important."

"What you can do is witness a video where a black person is killed, the same video, we're all looking at it and we're seeing it from different perspectives. You're seeing it from your truth and I'm seeing it from my truth. And let me tell you something - God doesn't have a problem with us seeing things from different perspectives..."

He may not have a problem with us seeing things from different perspectives initially, but He always tells us to look for the truth. I may be seeing something from my perspective, but if the lens that I am looking through is faulty, I am not seeing the truth. In the end, it's not my perspective that matters, it's the *truth* that matters. The *truth* will set me free, not my perspective.

"The church doesn't protest, the church doesn't march - what do they do? They pray."

What does this mean about the many marches, demonstrations and protests led by Dr. King during the Civil Rights movement? God's people pray and protest. We civilly disobey, we afflict the comfortable. We preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, we use words.

"The world is watching how the church responds, and they will not forget."

Yes. Keeping in mind that the majority of the world is made up of people of color, when our first response to the death of people who have a history of oppression in our world is to question the circumstances under which they died instead of immediately lamenting and mourning the fact that we have lost yet another image-bearer of God (something which should be part of the response of every single member of the church), something is wrong.

"My favorite song, the first song I remember singing in the church is Jesus loves the [little children of the] world: red, yellow, black and white, they are all precious in His sight. Yes, Jesus loves the children of the world."

This song is straight up racist. Both "red" and "yellow" have been used as derogatory ways to refer to people of Native American and Asian descent. The sentiment and intent behind the song is good - but it's well past the point to stop using that verse. This is why pastors and preachers need to be surrounded by diverse people groups, and read books, essays and publications from diverse authors and thought leaders. Otherwise, you end up using a racist song as a way to end your sermon.

2 comments:

  1. Its Elizabeth from CBS. Thanks for sharing this. I'm looking forward to catching up in another week.

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  2. Thank you for this post Cat. Very well thought out.

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