The L. B. J. Library contains an oral collection of an event that took place in the early 1960s. Politicians and true believers in the segregated South decided to pursue their agenda in a non-confrontational way.
Somehow, they persuaded themselves to believe that the vast majority of their fellow African-American citizens were pleased with their second–class status. In their minds, since most of their black friends went about each day working as tenant farmers, day laborers, or domestic workers, quietly and without complaint, they were happy with their place in society. Hence, the mission of these politicians was to convey to the rest of the country this great truth.
The leaders of this group found an older black man, who had been living by the Southern traditions for decades. They asked him if he would tell his story on a national television broadcast. He agreed to do so.
A professional director was hired to film the testimony of the elderly gentleman. However, he insisted that the testimonial must be spontaneous to be authentic. Consequently, the old man “was duly positioned on the porch of his ramshackle cabin, seated in his rocking chair, attired in his tattered work clothes.”
All was made ready and the director said, “Now when we get ready we’re going to give you the signal to go, and just start talking and tell people in your own words just how you feel.”
The red light on the camera lit up in the director gave the old man the signal to talk. The old man asked, “Is it time to talk now?” He was assured that it was indeed, time.
The gentleman asked, “Now can I say anything I want to?” Again he was assured, this time with more urgency, that he could indeed speak.
At that point, the older black gentleman turned to the camera, raised his voice, and shouted, “Help!”
This story summarizes in a grandiose way the struggle races have of bridging the gap of understanding. This is nothing new. My ancestors faced these challenges two millennia ago with the people of God.
As a Gentile, I am acutely aware of the implications of what Jesus was saying in the parable of the great banquet in Luke:
15 Hearing this, a man sitting at the table with Jesus exclaimed, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet in the Kingdom of God!”
16 Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. 17 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ 18 But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ 19 Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20 Another said, ‘I now have a wife, so I can’t come.’
21 “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ 23 So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. 24 For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet’” (Luke 14:15-24).
Jesus was talking about my ancestors. Jesus was talking about me.
To the Israelites, we Gentiles were the folks on the other side of the track. Luke relates in his gospel, and in his follow-up work, Acts, God’s heart for the Gentiles—God’s heart for the world.
The Apostle Paul was one of the first Jewish Christians to understand God’s heart for the Gentiles. He traversed many rough passages to bring us into God’s community. He lost his life over this effort. Gratitude demands that I seek to extend to others the same blessings I received.
The cross of Jesus accomplished many things. One was this: it broke down the barrier between Jew and Gentile. Expanding that thought, the cross broke down the barrier between races.
I once heard Tony Evans say that the church is Heaven’s Embassy on Earth. I agree. The church should be the community, where people of different races can rally around the cross. We share a common identity in Jesus.
Several years ago, an Anglo friend of mine attended a family reunion. In his family, some of the members had married people from different races. For example, one cousin married a Korean, another cousin married a Hispanic, and—well, you get the idea.
However, the family did not sit around at the reunion saying, "She's Hispanic..." or "She's Korean..." The reason was simple. Each individual carried the same last name. Consequently, everyone was treated like family.
That's the way it should be in the church. We all come together and we all wear the name, "Christ." And that's all that should matter. I wish it were always that way.
It bothers me that athletic teams have historically done a better job of this than churches. Seems like they have demonstrated more unity as “Red Sox,” or “Cowboys,” or “Lakers,” than we do as Christians.
I feel much of this has to with the common goal they share. Most players allow the goal of winning a championship to transcend their own personal desires.
The community of faith encompasses so many areas of life, and so many of these areas seem to root deeper into the human heart. There seems something so deep and so personal about worship in a public assembly. I have lived in Papua, New Guinea (for a very short period of time), South America, and Texas. I find that people of the same race have trouble finding unity in a worship assembly. Consequently, I am not shocked that I often read that “the hour of worship is the most segregated time in America.”
I suspect we will not overcome this barrier, until the common goal of demonstrating the Kingdom of God overcoming the racial divisions of people, surpasses that of fulfilling personal preferences. If we can achieve this, though, we just might inspire more people turn to Jesus.
Five Things I Think I Think (with a nod to Peter King for this idea)
1. My daughter, Haleigh’s, basketball career is over. Saturday, she and the ETCA Lady Panthers played the defending state champion, Geneva Christian (out of Boerne), in an epic game.
Geneva broke out to a 9-0 lead. ETCA plugged away, and plugged away, until they closed the gap at half time, 25-20.
The third quarter, each team played savage defense. ETCA held Geneva to only seven points. Meanwhile, the Panthers scored only six themselves.
The fourth quarter was magnificent. With a minute left, Samantha Phillips put the Panthers ahead for the first time in the game: 47-46. Geneva immediately went down the court and hit a three. ETCA had to foul, and Abby Leeder hit clutch free throws for Boerne Geneva. Ultimately, they won 51-49. Here is the link to TYLER MORNING TELEGRAPH STORY of the game… http://www.tylerpaper.com/article/20110227/SPORTS05/302279931
Geneva deserved the victory. They played like champions.
I harbor no complaints. Our girls’ two best games were their two last games. (Tuesday, ETCA defeated Wichita Falls’ Notre Dame 55-42.)
Geneva heads to the Final Four. However, ETCA has reached new heights. I am so proud of these girls. For the ones who remain—next year!
2. My son’s baseball team has already started practice. When I was a kid, we played baseball in the summers.
3. I haven’t seen THE KING’S SPEECH. Evidently, I need to.
4. I don’t know why, but ever since I saw ENCHANTED, I have liked Amy Adams.
5. I started reading LBJ, ARCHITECT OF AMERICAN AMBITION doing some research (this blog’s opening account came from the book, p. 467) and I had a hard time putting it down. Out since 2006, Randall B. Woods has written a fascinating book.