But we have failed because we are not God. No wonder drug trade is seen as an understandable and too often an acceptable career choice. No wonder teenage pregnancy continues to rise and sexually transmitted diseases are approaching epidemic proportions. It almost seems that African-American culture is being overrun by a pathological pursuit of self-aggrandizement, sensuality and prosperity at any cost. The poet and educator James Weldon Johnson proved to be prophetic when he wrote the last stanza of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" in This work came to be known as the Negro National Anthem and was sung daily after the Pledge of Allegiance in many black schools up until the time of desegregation.
His lyrics warned us of the potential for our current predicament:. God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, Thou who hast led us thus far on our way, Thou who hast by thy might led us into the light keep us forever in the path we pray. Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee. Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee. What should we do now? How can we honor our history, respond to the present, and build a viable, vibrant future for our people?
It is not too late. In any case, it starts with an individual choice. You must choose Jesus for yourself. Choosing Jesus prepares you to be a real agent of change in our community. A vibrant relationship with Christ will give you the power to govern yourself and live according to what is right, not according to what is expedient. Those of us who discover the power of a relationship with Christ and who see the need for spiritual transformation in our community must band together to build a new future. We must tell the truth about the challenges we face and develop an agenda for overcoming those challenges.
That agenda emanates from Jesus. In the Book of Proverbs in the Bible it says, "Righteousness exalts a nation We have been looked down on so long and so pervasively, and our people disappoint us so often, we can begin to wonder if the negative stereotypes are really true. In this vulnerable state we are susceptible to the persuasiveness of eloquent orators who will tell us that we are the best, brightest, most noble people on the earth. It is easy to buy into ideas that lift black people above all others. Our righteous anger is easily manipulated to get us to buy into theories of a white conspiracy to hold us back.
It feels good to hold someone else responsible for our struggles.
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Of course, there is plenty of racism remaining in this society, supplying fuel for those who would stoke the fires of rage and resentment. Jesus, in what he taught and what he modeled, provides a different perspective. He teaches us that those who have oppressed us will be called to account for their actions.
He also directs our attention back to our own responsibility. We will be called to reckon with our own choices. Jesus spoke a message that echoes across the landscape of time and penetrates to the heart of our predicament. So, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. Sin is the biblical word for those actions and our general state of non-conformity to the will and design of God.
All sin is harmful. Black people's suffering is either because of someone else's sin or due to our own. Yet, Jesus promises to free us from sin. Jesus took on human flesh, walking this earth, and dying a painful, humiliating death to pay for the punishment of our sin. He created an infinite and eternal payment for sin by submitting Himself to death.
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How do we access this freedom that Jesus purchased for us? By personally accepting him as Savior and Lord. This is the freedom our forefathers found in the midst of slavery. The freedom to transcend their circumstances. The freedom that comes from living on the basis of a higher reality. This is the freedom that ignited the activity of so many who have fought for the freedom and dignity of our people.
This is the freedom that you can experience if you will place your trust in Him. We have an extraordinarily rich spiritual heritage.
And Jesus is central to that heritage. We can honor their memory by rediscovering the faith that allowed our forbearers to survive. We can build on the legacy they have left us by carefully following the one they followed -- Jesus.
You have the opportunity to live out an incredible, eternal transcendent purpose -- a purpose rooted in an eternal hope. Many are involved in seeking to bring about change in the black community. Yet, without an eternal perspective, without a hope fixed on a God who is just, loving, and who offers eternal life, all our striving has to be measured by its effect here and now, in our immediate experience.
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There is a lot of noble talk about needing to bring about change for the sake of the next generation. But without an eternal perspective those who live on the margins of society have little reason to hope. They have little power. They have limited opportunities. Why should they turn away from the temptations and enticements that offer them quick rewards and a short-term escape? A relationship with Christ offers not only hope, but the power to do what is right.
This is another implication of Jesus' statement, "the truth will set you free. He gives us the power to resist temptation and to live a godly life. In other words, He gives us the freedom to do what is right instead of being enslaved by our own desires and passions. Don't let the lies being told about Jesus keep you from knowing the truth. Watch out for those who will play to your emotions, provide pseudo-intellectual arguments, but have bizarre notions built into their beliefs. Like so many of our forefathers, you will find in Jesus a kind, compassionate, powerful friend.
One who can give you a new life and set you free from the penalty and power of sin. Then and only then will you be able to see the world clearly, according to truth, and find the purpose for which God created you. The truth about Jesus is that He is our only sure and lasting hope. Black people were not an afterthought, nor has He relegated us to some secondary position in His kingdom.
African people have been a part of His working from the beginning. He is the Savior of all mankind and He will work in the midst of any people who place their trust in Him. The history of African Americans is an illustration of this fact. And He awaits our response to manifest His love and power to us once again. God has a purpose for African Americans.
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We were created for a noble, yes, even a divine destiny. As we follow Him, we will fulfill that destiny. A destiny of eternal significance. A destiny of present impact on our community. A destiny that maximizes the potential God built into you when He created you. There is no higher calling, and no better life. There is so much frustration in the world because we have relied on gods rather than God.. These transitory gods are not able to save us or bring happiness to the human heart. It is faith in Him that we must rediscover.
With this faith we can transform bleak and desolate valleys into sunlit paths of joy and bring new light into the dark caverns of pessimism. He has spoken on campuses across the US and in Africa on race relations, missions and the Christian faith. Charles and his wife, Rebecca, are currently studying at Princeton Theological Seminary. They have six children and seven grandchildren. These men who had been terrified became bold witnesses of the gospel. Thousands were saved in those first few days of the early church.
What made the difference? The disciples were transformed when the power of the Holy Spirit took control of their lives. They had not suddenly become more courageous in their own strength, but they were were empowered by the Holy Spirit. All of our efforts, abilities, methods, and programs will come to nothing if we work in our own strength. It is only in the power of the Holy Spirit that we become effective witnesses to the lost.
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And he leaped and walked. We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: 16 Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Providing this resource does have some financial costs.
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