Monday, April 28, 2008

A Church Leader's 'Look At Me' Moment

I just sat through the press-conference of Rev. Jeremiah Wright at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. this morning and there’s so much to say I’m not sure where to start. First and foremost, Mr. Wright had 55 minutes of a speech and Q&A, and words spoken in reverence about the Lord Jesus Christ were few and far between. That above all else is the perversion of this whole circumstance.

Anyone presenting themselves as a Christian Leader has a responsibility to ensure that when they are finished speaking, the name and person and Godhood of Jesus Christ is the most lasting image of what was heard and seen. In Mr. Wright’s presentation, the lasting image is one of arrogance, pride, pre-occupation with the “Black Christian Experience” and a decidedly “look at me” persona. The “look at me” part should be quite common for the American audience, as our culture reeks of the stench of such public displays…in our athletes, our politicians and our so-called celebrities. This is so much about what is different about today’s Christian culture when viewed against the Apostle Paul’s teaching about true Christian living: Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:2 NIV) – The Lord expects us as Christians and I would assume Christian leaders in particular, to demonstrate a level of patience and gentleness with those with whom they differ or disagree. And to be careful in how we attempt to correct others lest we ourselves fall into the same trap of sinfulness: In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (2 Timothy 4:1-3 NIV, italics mine)

I would dare say that the God is disinterested in furthering the self-interests of the “Black Church” just as much as he is disinterested in furthering the self-interests of the “Catholic Church” or any other man-centered church entity. God is interested in furthering true worship of Jesus Christ through repentance, contrition and love for each other. God is not interested in reparations for slavery or about a country's "saying I'm sorry moment". God is interested in contrite hearts and humility in practice. Such behavior on the part of any person regardless of color will show Christ to a dying nation far more than artificial proclamations of "I'm sorry" for something that took place over a hundred years ago. This is not to say that adherents of church institutions such as the ones mentioned previously or any other church denomination should dismiss the importance and sense of belonging that these institutions provide to them. But it cannot be put above the singular worship of Christ.

Mr. Wright in the Q&A session was asked a point blank question about whether Jesus Christ is the only way to God. A question where a simple answer could be heard by millions watching on TV. Instead of a simple and definitive “YES”, Mr. Wright attempted to answer in an intellectual's cleverly linguistic way such that some poor “uneducated” peon in the audience would not have had an opportunity to have the simple question answered in his own mind. Someone, somewhere, had an opportunity to hear then and there that Jesus Christ IS the only way to salvation. Instead he was relegated to simply being an audience member in Mr. Wright’s theater of the self-important. Perhaps our infinitely patient and loving God will give those truly seeking an answer to the question an opportunity at another time to hear simply that YES...Jesus is the only way to salvation. If not, Mr. Wright will have to answer to the God of all about that missed opportunity!

Writers Note: In case anyone is interested, I happen to be Black.

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A God who sends people to Hell?