Monday, November 26, 2007

The Real Struggle

One of the ways that African-Americans like to speak of the ongoing fight for equality and against racism in America is to speak of "the struggle." In fact, in order to discern ones sympathies and heart for so-called African-American causes, one is often asked if you are "down with the struggle." Needless to say, the fight for equality for the under-served in this country goes on. Indeed, there remains a struggle to see American continue to pursue the true meaning of her creed, "That all men are created equal." However, there is a far greater and substantial struggle waging that the struggle for civil rights often eclipses in the minds and hearts of so-called Christians. It is the struggle for the hearts of men and women as they embrace or reject the true meaning of the Cross of Christ. It is a struggle to understand the cosmic battle over sin is also and equally an intimate and internal battle in the hearts of men and women. It is this struggle for which the cross, and the Christ crucified on it, was waged and won for His people.

Unfortunately, these two struggles have been so intertwined by some that the latter has lost its clarity and preeminence. Some theologians have sought to use the latter to support the former and thus the struggle for the cross ultimately becomes nothing more than a struggle for Civil Rights. In this scenario, men and women gain the world, but lose their souls. They gain the right to vote, but lose the victory in Christ.

Don't get me wrong, I am down with the struggle. Having been on the demeaning side of racism and prejudice, I know that there yet remains a need for America to be diligent in living out her mandate. However, I am more gripped with the depths of my own sin than I am with the prejudice of others. I am more gripped by the cross when I understand that it was not just racism that sent Christ there, but even the pride, lust, anger, and all other unmentionables that lie in my heart and actions. In other words, as Christians wax eloquently about the struggle, I pray that the real struggle, the struggle within, is not lost or subverted by the struggle without. I pray that African-American church goers and theologians would not seek to gain America and yet lose their souls.

This morning I am particularly moved by this because my brother and friend Thabiti Anyabwile has posted an entry at his blog that I believe to be the most heartfelt post I have ever read from him. As I read it my heart was drawn across the water to that beautiful island where he currently resides. I wanted to reach my hand out to him and hug him and let him know that he has a friend and comrade in me who is down with him in The Real Struggle.

Thank you my brother and friend. For you, if I might borrow from my favorite poet:

The theological woods are dangerous and deep
But our Lord has many promises to keep
And by His grace, we have many miles to go before we sleep
Many miles to go before we sleep


Lionel Woods said...

It is such a struggle within me to find a balance between the two. I don't want to ignore, social injustice, poverty, and racism, but on the other hand, I believe that all of the answers lie within the redeeming power of the cross of our Lord and his triumph over death and sin. Since I believe that, my energy now shifts towards having a correct understanding of the God of the bible and redemption and trying to articulate the truth of both. It is our most pressing issues, but because of my current economic position I can easily ignore the widow and the orphan. Ugghh. I guess we will live with this tension until Eternity comes and sweeps us away.

ajcarter said...

Indeed, brother Woods. And thanks for your defense of truth over at Between Two Worlds.

Nappily Evah Aftah said...

Yep. The "struggle" is to not let sin sustain a grip. That's it, in a nutshell.

Christ is not "pro-black". A lot of black Christians have a real problem with that. That's why so many us allow our "issues with white people" to find a comfortable home, in our spirits.

I'm all for fighting against racial injustice. I'm all for callin' white folks out — AND black folks.

But when we make The Gospel a political cause, instead of a cause for Christ, we start to care more about making sure we vote for the right president, than making sure we lift Him up.