Thursday, February 23, 2006

Sundown Towns and Missing Christians

I recently read Sundown Towns by James Loewen, and I was struck by one incident of many - how Corbin, Kentucky drove all its black inhabitants out of town on Halloween night 1919. Any town of 3400 people in 1919 had churches, especially in Kentucky, with lots of people calling themselves "Bible believers" who had "asked Jesus Christ to come into their hearts."

Where were these people on Halloween night 1919? Where were their pastors? And where were they during the following 70+ years in which Corbin made sure that no black person could live there?

The Bible says that a Christian is a "disciple" of Jesus. "Disciple" means "apprentice." The apprentice spends time with the master and in this way becomes like him, coming to think, to do, and to teach as he does (Luke 6:40). Where did this pack of "Bible believers" learn from Jesus to act this way or to silently go along with others who did?

I don't mean to pick on Corbin. Around the same time every town on the Illinois River except Peoria ethnically cleansed its black people the same way, and they performed the same ethnic cleansing in Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and countless other places over the next 35 years as they had for 30 years before that. Everywhere the "Christians" went along when they were not actually taking the lead, being enemies of God because they were such firm friends of their white supremacist world (James 4:4). It is precisely because Corbin is in no way unusual that it compels us confront what we mean in the USA by "Christian."

This history is present, not past. The sons of those who acted so cruelly and inhospitably while singing "Just As I Am" - thereby acknowledging that Jesus, unlike them, is hospitable to all - are now foremost in supporting precisely the same ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their own homes. They even twist the Scriptures to justify it in the same way that their fathers did to justify white supremacy - while denying any relationship to them, like the Pharisees who likewise distanced themselves from those who killed the prophets (Matthew 23:29-36). They are firm friends of this world, as conformed to its present passions to rob, slaughter, and dominate others as they were in 1919, and so they are enemies of God in the same way.

Asking Jesus into your heart doesn't make it, as far as the apostles are concerned. Receiving and becoming a doer of his word does - and his word testifies that this world is evil, not justified in what it does. As John the apostle wrote, we know God's word is in us if we love our fellow humans made in God's image and likeness. The one who does not love does not know God, no matter what religious commitments he has made or prayers he has prayed (1 John 4:8). If that's you, you are a Christoid, just as a gorilla, a chimpanzee, or an orangutan is an anthropoid but not a real human.

There's the problem, so here's a cure. If we say we have no sin, the word of God is not in us, because God says we do have all kinds of sin, so that we are calling God a liar - and that's what causes us not to be like Jesus. We need the word of God in us, to work in us as it worked in Jesus, and that word will constantly be telling us we're wrong so that we can be healed and made right. John the apostle wrote that if we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This is because when we no longer assert our rightness, we stop kicking the truth out of our hearts (Revelation 3:20). Learning our wrongness all the time is what is called repentance, by which we cause more joy in heaven than 99 righteous who need no repentance. When we cause joy in heaven, heaven will cause joy in us. So don't be a Christoid, fool - be a Christian!


Blogger FeatherIron said...

Every age has it's own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certian truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes...Nothing strikes me more when I read the controversies of past ages then the fact that both sides were usually assuming without question a good deal which we should now absolutley deny. They thought that they were as completely opposed as two sides could be, but in fact they were all the time secretley united-united with each other and against earlier and later ages-by a great mass of common assumptions." C.S. Lewis from God in the Docks

2/23/2006 5:05 PM  
Blogger Annie said...

There is no better marketing tool for Satan than to show the world that Christians are hypocrits. Unfortunately, what the world does not understand is that Christians are forgiven - not made perfect. Thank you for visiting my blog, and I enjoyed yours as well.

2/27/2006 10:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What Annie said is widely beleived. It is THE selling point of American Christianity.
Is it any wonder why so many look down upon American Christianity?

9/14/2015 12:38 PM  

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