Do You See This Woman?

Luke 7:44 – Do you see this woman?

Here are two sisters in Christ who are African American. What they are going to say might make you uncomfortable. Many of us have lived in denial and dismissal that racism still exists, but have we listened to our black brothers and sisters in Christ? Have we asked them what they think and what their viewpoint is?

Take some time to watch this video by sister Nikki Lee and by sister Tranae Felicien. Hear their pain. As you can see in the above verse, Jesus had to get the Simon the Pharisee to stop for a minute and get out of his safe and comfortable box of prejudice to see the woman who came in to anoint Jesus. Today Jesus wants us to listen, to truly see others and to hear their pain.

Sister Nikki Lee’s heartfelt call to see her and her son and her husband for what they are enduring.

 

Here is sister Tranae Felicien’s post on how hurt she is by the blindness and dismissal she had witnessed from her brothers and sisters in Christ.

Written by Tranae Felicien

When there was a death from systemic racism, I used to feel pressure to end a post on a hopeful note about the future of America. But I’ve stopped holding my breath that America, as a society, will ever rid itself of its racism. Part of my evidence lies in the life experiences I and my community have survived. Part of my evidence lies in the years I’ve been on the incredibly illuminating social media apps.

I see your posts about Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. I see the ones who have decided to use their pages to educate. But I also see the ones who have only posted about the looting or only to say “not all cops”. I see the people commenting “I am with you” but your pages are silent. And I’ll see your silence about Trump greenlighting shooting his own people over property.

I see those who have posted about mask requirements being a denial of rights but never about racism. I see your posts about abortion but never about racism’s fatalities. I see the posts that are scared to say racism but resort to general admonitions of love. I see the people that say “all we can do is pray.” I see the people who continue to be confused at the way black people are treated in this country, but between this week’s comment and the last, they didn’t care enough to Google.

I saw your posts about Michelle Obama being a transgender woman. I saw your posts about Obama causing a “race war”, blaming a black man for people being fed up with racism. I saw your dismissals of past black viral tragedies, even those on video (Botham Jean, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile to name a few). I saw you dismiss deaths as isolated incidents though DOJ investigations found patterns of discrimination within entire police forces.

I saw you say Blue Lives Matter when the spotlight was on black lives. I saw you rant about Colin Kaepernick’s non-violent, peaceful protest. I’ve seen the people who selectively quote MLK and the Bible to try to instruct black people not to cause trouble. Yet, you ignored quotes about condemnation for injustice and passiveness in the face of discrimination. I saw you try to excuse past Americans for slavery, as if they even cared about their descendants’ opinions of the way they dealt with their “property.” I saw you get heated about a dead flag of traitors literally fighting for the continued enslavement of black people.

What is the point of this post? Simply to let you know I see you. You may have been able to live your life in ignorance of racism’s pervasiveness but I have not. This is not a post to beg you to change. It’s a post to take you out of your comfort zone, the comfort zone I’ve never had being black in this country.

Some of you will start or continue to work for an actively anti-racist society. Some of you will post “in solidarity” but never examine yourself and your circle. Some of you will be upset that I’m not acknowledging private emotional disturbances from these newest fatalities, yet not see the reason why I don’t care if you felt bad briefly for others but said/did nothing about an issue every can affect in ways big or small. Some of you will think that racism is left in a few individuals and not ever contemplate that racism manifests in interactions less than death as it is systemic. Some of you will think black people continue to make all this up and will comfort yourselves with black voices who are paid to make you feel better.

Some of you may even look at this post and feel anger at me because you see yourself in some of my negative examples. Some of you may feel like I am not entitled to dictate what you post. You’d be right and also miss my point. Some of you may be upset that I’m making it seem like I have nothing to work on as a person, and you’d be incorrect as I am only addressing racism against black people. Again, you missed my point. Some of you may even find me ungrateful as I have had many amazing life experiences as a result of my family’s emigration here, having no knowledge of the price we paid in being just another black family here and the many black Americans denied my upbringing through the effects of racism. Some of you may find this post un-Christlike, but the white American version of Christianity that produces Christians more devoted to comfort than lessening injustices is a far departure from the Bible.

There are no congratulations in reaching the end of my post. But in parting, I leave a quote from MLK’s “The Other America” speech. And I want you to know that if you ever see my name trending because I’m victim of systemic racism, you’re going to see me fight back in that video. When the Lord welcomes me home, I’ll finally have an unburdened joy as no racists will be there.

 

The Apostles Listened and Didn’t Dismiss

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.
(Acts 6:1)

The horrible killing of George Floyd is just another reminder that hatred and racism is real in this country.

There was racial / ethic tension in the early church. It was real. Here is just one example.

Some widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. The Hebrew widows were doing just fine. They never missed a meal, and the Hebrews made sure their widows were well cared for. It was the Greek (Hellenist) Jews, whose widows were being overlooked.

The neglect, the favoritism, and the divide came to a head. The Hellenists cried out against the Hebrews because of the unfair treatment. “This isn’t right,” they said.

What did the apostles do? Did they dismiss the problem? Nope. Did they accuse the Hellenists of bad motives, of not being thankful, of creating a problem that doesn’t exist? Nope. Did they come back with “All Widows Matter.” Nope. Did they threaten and intimidate the Hellenists for speaking up? Nope.

What the apostles did first of all was listen. The leadership listened. They heard the cries of those who were being neglected and mistreated.

Secondly, they accepted that the problem was real and needed a godly solution. It was time to act.

Third they empowered the church, including those who were being mistreated to be part of the solution (Acts 6:3-6). Those who are in leadership and are reading this article, please, please, please see that it was the church, not the leadership, who selected the 7 men who would oversee the care of the widows. The apostles demonstrated confidence in the church to select who would take care of this issue. Notice that all 7 men had Greek names, not Hebrew ones (Acts 6:5). The group chose Greek (Hellenist) men to address the problem. Can you imagine us choosing an all-white panel to address racism in America?

These three basic things must be done today by our leaders, in churches, in business, and in America. Leaders have to listen, especially right now. Leaders cannot dismiss a problem that many people are consistently bringing up. Leaders have to empower people to be part of the solution.

Don’t get caught up in the reactions of some who are doing wrong and miss the hurt and pain of so many who are living what many of us have dismissed and don’t have to deal with on a daily basis.

Listen.

Don’t dismiss. Be part of the solution.

Empower others to be part of the solution.

Tomorrow, I’m going to post articles and videos from our sisters in Christ who are African American. Listen to them. Hear their pain and what they experience.

Seek the welfare of the city

“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare (Jeremiah 29:4-7).

The election is over. America has decided. God has appointed a ruler as He always does to accomplish His purpose (Romans 13).

Our responsibility as Christian men, fathers and husbands is to pray for the peace and security of the nation (state) where we live. Just like the exiles in Babylon in the verse above, we are to seek the welfare of the city were we live. When America is doing well, we do well. We are exiles and strangers, just like the Jews in Babylon (1 Peter 2:11-17).

Christians are citizens of a different kingdom, a heavenly kingdom, and we are simply pilgrims here. But no matter where “here” is we are obligated to shine as lights for God (Philippians 2:15). It is a simple principle, but we need to remember that our duty is always the same, no matter who wins our presidential election.

Lets remember to talk often about these principles with our sons and daughters.

…and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments (Habakkuk 3:17-19).

Habakkuk was deeply distressed about the immoral state of his nation. He was certainly justified in these feelings. In his distress he cried out to the Lord, but the answers he received from the Lord were not comforting at first. God would deal with the sin of Judah, but he would use the Chaldeans (Babylonians) to do it. “Wait a minute,” Habakkuk thinks, “how can a righteous and holy God use such a wicked and violent nation to punish His own people?” That is not the answer he was expecting…at all!

Through his conversation with God, we see the true character of Habakkuk shine as he is refined by God.

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD

Question: How can a man rejoice in the midst of wickedness, chaos and pending doom?

Habakkuk was told by the Lord that the righteous man “shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). “Trust Me,” God is saying. Trust His nature, His motives and His promises. Know and assume that God will always do the right thing, even if it doesn’t make sense to you and me.

Regardless of what happens around me, Habakkuk had to wait quietly for the day of distress (Habakkuk 3:16). There is a value to silence. The Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before him (Habakkuk 2:10). You know, this time of judgment was going to come whether or not Habakkuk had the right attitude! God was going to bring punishment upon Judah by Babylon and then He would destroy Babylon.

The purposes of God will be accomplished, so let us trust that God will always do the right thing. Let us also quiet our minds knowing that God will always take care of His people. We are “sealed” and “marked,” God knows those who are His (2 Timothy 2:19). If you are a follower of God, you won’t get lost in the sauce.

So if the economy tanks and the nation crumbles (no produce, flocks and herds lost), yet we will rejoice in the Lord. The Lord and only the Lord is our strength. If my focus is on the material, then I will never develop true joy.

What Habakkuk learned long ago is what we as God’s men today must get straight in our heads. Especially now in America.

Be Careful What You Ask For

The nation of Israel as a whole was frustrated by the high taxation that existed during Solomon’s reign (1 Kings 12:4). When Solomon died, his son Rehoboam took the throne. As a result of pride and bad advice, Rehoboam decided to increase the tax burden on the people. This resulted in 10 tribes rebelling under the leadership of Jeroboam, whom they named as their first king (931 BC).

They wanted change, and they were hoping for change, but the change they got was so bad that Israel never recovered. Jeroboam fundamentally transformed northern Israel. New gods. New priesthood. New days of worship. New location to worship God. I want to emphasize the point that all future kings in northern Israel kept these changes in place until their captivity by Assyria in 722 BC. They sacrificed the long-term spiritual health of the nation for temporary economic relief.

Be Careful What You Ask For!

We as a nation seem to be just as fickle as the people of Israel. One president or party is in power and we get sick of it and go to the opposite extreme: from Bush to Clinton to Bush to Obama.

The caution the Scriptures provide is…be careful what you ask for.

  • Do not vote with the “I’m just sick of the current crop of leaders” kind of mentality. You might put yourself in a worse situation than before!
  • Do not vote upon the emotions of the moment or a few good speeches. Because of the emotion of the moment, the Jews killed Jesus and asked for a murderer to be released instead. Look at history to see what happens when the emotions of the moment control the people.
  • Do not vote based on the temporary benefits that your favorite politician promises to give you. What is the long-term cost for those short-term goodies?
  • Have you fasted and prayed before you decided on a candidate?
  • Have you sought the counsel from God’s word before you decided on a candidate?
  • Have you considered the long-term spiritual consequences of your vote?

The nations have sunk down in the pit which they have made; in the net which they hid, their own foot has been caught…the wicked will return to Sheol, even all the nations who forget God (Psalms 9:15,17).