Last night my wife and I went to see 12 Years A Slave.
In this movie which depicts a true story, Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Solomon Northup, the New York State citizen who was kidnapped and made to work for 12 years on a plantation in New Orleans in the 1800s.
For those who have a romantic idea about how this country has evolved, this movie will wipe the delusion from your thinking. It serves as a stark reminder of the brutal history of race relations and the price of freedom we all take for granted in this nation at one time or another.
As a minority ministering in Minnesota, I have a perspective on race relations that others who have never experienced discrimination or racial profiling cannot adequately appreciate. I have been discriminated against and been overlooked, disrespected, and even openly stereotyped by those who judged from outward appearance.
In this story we are brutally and profoundly reminded that not that long ago, people of one color thought it their God given right to “OWN” other human beings. Using scripture and a perverse doctrine they considered human beings like cattle and abused them in such ways that even animals should never be abused.
I believe that in subtle ways there are people who still think themselves superior to others based, whether they will admit it or not, on the color of their skin. Even within the work of the ministry this mindset continues to exist and manifest in ways that those who have eyes to see can detect.
I challenge all people to open both heart and mind to, as Martin Luther King once said, “judge a man not by the color of his skin but the content of his character.” If the Church is ever going to fulfill the assignment and destiny as laid out in the scripture, we must move past the prejudices and discrimination based on culture or skin tone and endeavor to do more to stand united in HIM.
If you think discrimination is a thing of the past, you may be sincere in that belief … but you would be sincerely wrong.
As a hispanic minister in Minnesota, I have watched first hand discrimination and devaluation of those of color by those who did not even realize their color blindness was showing.
We cannot solve such deep and harsh wounds with just a few words here and there when the mood strikes us but in a continued and sustained effort to heal the brokenhearted and emerge united in the true color of the redeemed … the color of the blood of Jesus.
As long as there is even ONE group within all the body of Christ that considers themselves superior by way of culture or color, we cannot be united and we cannot fulfill the great destiny for which the offices of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, and Teacher were sent forth.
Ephesians 4:11-13 “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ”
If we are going to pray, let us pray for more than just mere words but actions that change the landscape and open doors for change and transformation in how we all work together.
If we are going to act, let us act with the resolve and conviction that tears down walls of division and heals the wounds of disconnection.
If we are going to give let it be with a reckless abandon and hope that in our generosity and thoughtfulness, we will not only change the present but lay a foundation of unity for our children they shall not be able to ignore.
I am especially grateful to those who put aside all discrimination and support in faith the work THE KING calls for in this hour.