BCC Staff Note: You’re reading Part Two in a four-part BCC Grace & Truth blog series for Black History Month. These diverse posts all share in common a passion to help us to learn from the legacy of Black Church history. Today, in Part Two, Dr. Nicolas Ellen encourages us to expand our thinking about the contributions of the great cloud of African American witnesses who have gone before us.
The Time to Remember
It is that time of year where we seek to honor contributions that African-Americans have made to this country. We focus on people such as Martin Luther King, W.E. Dubois, Thurgood Marshall, George Washington Carver, or Garret Morgan. We seek to give honor where honor is due as we reflect on the history of African Americans.
This time gives us an opportunity to think about where our nation has been and where we are going in race relations. As we celebrate the contributions that African Americans have brought to this great nation, I would like us to take this a step further. For us who have been redeemed from the penalty, power, and soon the presence of sin to a new and right relationship with God the Father through the Person and work of God the Son, I want us to consider a few additional applications…
Celebrate the Contributions
Take time to learn different areas African Americans have made contributions to the culture beyond athletics and music. Study the contributions they have made to math, science, government, as well as to the Christian faith. Take time to move beyond the people you hear about every year and dive in deeper. You will be surprised at what you will discover. There is more to African Americans than what is presented in the media.
Consider the Cultural Context
When we study the Bible properly we learn the culture of the people and their context to better understand the nature of what is being written and who it is being written to. We all know the dangers of reading and hearing information without knowing the context in which it was written. Too often there is a misunderstanding and miscommunication as to who African Americans are and how they operate due to a lack of study or traditional stereotypes being accepted but not evaluated to affirm the validity or lack thereof.
I encourage you to take some time and explore the culture and context of African Americans as if you were preparing to do a Bible study. Evaluate different eras of time in American history and the message that was being presented. Discover the condition and perspective of African Americans during each those eras and put it into context of the time and the message that was being presented by this great nation. Learn the theological, social, economic, cultural, or political views that differed within the African American culture according to each period of American history. You will be surprised at what you will discover. There is more to African Americans than what is presented in the media.
Connect It All to Our Christianity
As we consider our Christian worldview, let’s think about what we as Christians have done, are doing, and will do to promote the cause of Jesus Christ within the African American community. Let us have loving discernment and discernment that loves. Let us consider our personal opinions, political views, media bias, and personal experiences with African Americans and bring them under the scrutiny of the Word of God.
As Dr. Charles Ware would say, let’s move into grace relations instead of race relations. Let us consider the culture, context, condition, and contributions of African Americans. As we do this, let us connect with African Americans in such a way that does not minimize their unique cultural existence or maximize their unique cultural existence but seeks to promote Jesus Christ and His agenda within their cultural existence.
Grace relations are not color blind. It promotes the powerful message of Jesus Christ while considering the context and condition of the people to whom the message is being articulated without any comprise of the message or condescension (in a negative way) to that particular culture.
Take time this year and study more about the African American culture. You will be surprised at what you will discover. There is more to us than what is presented in the media.
Join the Conversation
How can this apply these principles to your cultural context?