Day #20: Jesus' black life ain't matter
[If you want to know how and why this devotional came into existence feel free to read this]
What you will need:
- A Bible
- This Devotional
- Some Coloring Utensils
- And a print out of this awesome coloring sheet designed by Joel Swick (Instagram and Dribble)
Theme: Break the Bond of Injustice
Passage for March 20th 2017: Isaiah 58:1-12
Bars from “Blessings”
Jesus' black life ain't matter, I know I talked to his daddy
Said you the man of the house now, look out for your family
He has ordered my steps, gave me a sword with a crest
And gave Donnie a trumpet in case I get shortness of breath
I'm feeling shortness of breath, so Nico grab you a horn
Hit Jericho with a buzzer beater to end a quarter
Watch brick and mortar fall like dripping water.
The town I live in doesn’t have a ton of racial diversity. Being of Filipino descent, when I meet other people of color working in the church we form an instant kinship around our shared racial experience. The day after Chance performed at the Grammys, a group of pastors of color and I were texting as we watched our social media feeds become parades of well intentioned Christians trumpeting that Chance “took the Grammies to church.” While we were all excited for this cultural moment for a myriad of reasons, we were also wrestling with a few questions.
We wondered if by singing a familiar worship song Chance suddenly became too “Safe” for religious people. We were trying to figure out, intentionally or not, if this move to declare Chance the Hip-Hop Pastor to the Grammys was a way for our religious friends to unknowingly appropriate Chance’s message without the racial and cultural struggle that brought Chance to this moment and, more importantly, without entering into that struggle with him.
Chance's racial identity, with all of its joys and historical struggles, cannot be divorced from what he believes about God. Dislodging Chance’s message from that experience would rob it of its formative power. For example, todays bars come from one of the most brazen songs about faith on “Coloring Book.” On it Chance intermingles his jubilant faith with the racial injustice being highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement. Faith and social action for him are not separated. If we try to separate them in order to make Chance more safe, it would be like skipping the crucifixion in the Gospels to read about the resurrection. Or if we read the “I Have a Dream Speech” without learning about the Montgomery bus boycott. We want the joy without it being forged in the struggle.
Chance is not coming up with something new. His art simply reminds us of passages like we read in today’s text. The intermingling of social action and faith is simply the witness of the scriptures. By making the Scriptures a set of abstract ideas we can agree or disagree with rather than a way of life to be embodied, we domesticate the scriptures into the realm of “Safety.” This allows us to control it, making it fit our aims and desires. We don’t like being challenged. We like being in control. When Jesus is giving a famous message inviting a crowd of people to follow Him, He says that following him is like taking up an ancient Roman method of capital punishment every day. None of the good adventures I know of are safe, so why would following Jesus be an different?
Here are the questions I am contemplating today: How have I made Jesus safe? Instead of making following Jesus a set of truths to agree or disagree with, how can I begin to live how he did in the world with in my local community?
Mediation: Psalm 68:4-5
This is the first day of this weeks reflection. As you read the passage today what phrase sticks out? Focus on it. As you color today ask the Lord to make you uncomfortable this week by letting him speak to you about a the familiar and safe things in your life. When you feel like he has a revealed a few … ask the Lord to shake those up.