Seeking Religion; Forgetting Relationship
Today is Day Eight in my Black History 365 social media series. Currently in the on-line world, there is a great deal of discussion about Gospel artist Kim Burrell and the statements that she made about homosexuality. This ongoing conversation fits squarely into my theme. First, I will give a little background on Ms. Burrell. During a sermon being preached inside the church where she ministers, Burrell started to talk about sin. One of the topics she mentioned was homosexuality. Her comments were recorded and released on-line, reportedly without her prior knowledge or consent. Ms. Burrell subsequently has faced some major fallout from her preaching. She not only is being rejected by those outside the Christian community, she is being shunned, and disconcertingly ignored, by many of the proclaimed leaders over the faith. Some of these persons having also delivered the same message. This entire ordeal serves as a perfect contemporary illustration of what transpires when people purporting to be Believers pursue a personal cause over pursing Christ. Moreover, the human propensity to then bring the Bible into their evil actions can be seen in the awful, historic example of slavery in America.
Back when the new immigrants to America, the purported founding fathers, were adding to the land they claimed God sent them to take, they decided they needed laborers to help them build. Instead of doing it themselves, from the 15th century to the end of the 19th century, these new American immigrants- along with other countries who were growing- colluded with those in African countries to kidnap people and sell them into slavery. This Transatlantic Slave Trade was responsible for the forced migration of between 12 million to 15 million Africans to the Americas and other destinations in the world. There were many who did not survive the Middle Passage.
For centuries, the European immigrants to North America, and their successors, used the Bible as support for enslaving people. They pointed to it as proof that God was not only “okay” with slavery, He ordained it. Furthermore, any servant who bucked the system was in error and the master had the right to correct him as harshly as he chose. Because, after all, God gave them all authority over their property. The same reasoning is being used today to support un-Godly behavior. One of the most glaring examples today is of persons calling themselves Evangelical Christians who are saying that though they don’t personally agree with him, all Americans need to voluntarily come under the leadership of President-Elect Donald Trump. A person who has gone out of his way to offend everyone but rich, White men. Some going so far as to use Scriptures, often out of context, to show that Trump’s party’s platform better represents Christian beliefs even if the man himself does not embrace them.
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;” John 5:39 (NASB)
What is currently taking place with Ms. Burrell, the LGBTQ community, and governmental leadership exposes one of the many problems facing Christianity today. The quest to use the Bible to push a personal agenda over the quest to pursue a personal relationship with God has led us down the path of destruction. In John 5:39-40 (NASB), the Bible itself tells us that life is in Him (the Word) and not in the Scriptures (the words) that we search looking for Him. Using the Bible as the endpoint as opposed to the guide to The Endpoint, is the reason we have occurrences like slavery. Furthermore, cherry-picking your way through Scriptures is one of the causes for public rejection of someone you call your “Sister-in-Christ,” and the hatred instead of compassion for any person, or group, whom you have decided is subservient and/or the “biggest” sinner.
Let’s take the example of slavery. Would it have been as easy for the New World settlers to manipulate the Bible if people knew what the Scriptures said in Exodus 21:16 and 1 Timothy 1:8-10? Both the Old and New Testaments condemn the practice of “man-stealing,” which is what happened during the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Africans were rounded up by slave-hunters, who sold them to slave-traders, who brought them to the New World to work on plantations and farms. The penalty for such a crime in the Mosaic Law was death. Exodus 21:16 states, “Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death.”
Similarly, in the New Testament, slave-traders are listed among those who are “ungodly and sinful” and are in the same category as those who kill their fathers or mothers, murderers, adulterers and perverts, and liars and perjurers. 1 Timothy 1:8–11 says, “But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.”
The above Scriptures clearly show that slavery as it was carried out between Africa and the New World was not something that God endorsed. When we “study to show ourselves approved” and consider the Bible as a whole instead of picking our favorite parts to advance our own crusade, we can come to a better understand of what we are attempting to justify through the written word. Moreover, the New Testament Scripture puts kidnappers (the early slave traders) on the same unholy level as those who practice homosexuality. From looking at this Scripture, it covers all behavior that misses God’s mark. Tragically, however, all of these behaviors are not highlighted when people use the passage to point out certain sins over others. Even more troubling is when people pick apart the Bible and not one time seek Holy Spirit (“the” was intentionally left out) about what it means.
As I look at what is happening with Ms. Burrell, the LGBTQ community, and our government, there are many things that could have been be addressed in this article. The most important matter for me, though, is that I can’t help but thank Holy Spirit for showing me in 2012, the necessity of focusing more on my relationship with Him over anyone or anything else. It is vital to worship Him over the Bible and His creation. The purpose of both is to point to Him. Further, it is crucial to be guided by Holy Spirit. He teaches all things, not man. By turning our eyes to Him, we are better able to walk the path He lays out before us and not that put forth by others or our flesh.
How is your walk?
To connect with me further, or follow the Black History 365 series, you may find me on Twitter and Instagram as NowWithNicole.
Image One Disclaimer: Copyright, Rod Brown, Courtesy of the British Empire & Commonwealth Museum.
Image Two Disclaimer: Artist Unknown. If you are the maker of this image, please contact us.