Summary: The church has much work to do! We we never arrive at a place in history where the work of the church is irrelevant.
Text: Matthew 25:35-40
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,
36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
When I contemplate the history of Christianity in this country, a land that some claim was founded on Christian principles, I wonder, what bible guided the early Christian settlers. I wonder how those who purported to live by the tenants of Scripture rationalized the genocide of indigenous people, while their sacred texts declared, “thou shalt not kill.” How did those who owned, beat and raped their slaves justify the mistreatment of God’s children while claiming to live by a treatise that declared, Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them; for this is the law and the prophets. Even today, we have to ask the questions, How can so-called Christians, behave as if God doesn’t even exist? This question becomes further problematized in my intellectual and theological formation as I turn over and over in my mind, the question of how can those who claim to know the Lord as Savior and King oppress others while preaching hate or fear and loathing of their fellow brothers and sisters?
Where is the love of God in the suffering facing “the least of these?” How can those claiming a relationship with God write off the poor, the elderly, the disenfranchised as simply moochers and freeloaders and “less thans?” I visited Friends of the Homeless this past week and was impressed with the work that Kathy Tobin and the staff there do to help “the least of these.” Those on the fringes, those in need of a second chance, those in need of help and prayer, those who are forgotten by those of us that shout and dance and sing and praise in church.
Every week, we’re illuminated by preaching that prides itself on ̳rightly dividing the word of truth‘ from sacred texts and about social practices. So, when we think about the history of America, we’ve got to consider the dichotomy. This is a situation in which the marginalized namely, people of color, wrestle with notions of theodicy while being imprisoned by a colonizing religion that taught us to be subservient…..a religion that taught us to worship a Savior who looked liked someone else….we hung pictures of a blue eyed, pale skinned Savior in churches where dark skinned folk were paying tithes.
So, unlike the Black and Beautiful‖ beloved denoted in the biblical Song of Solomon, Black women‘s real life experiences in particular illustrate an American nightmare caused by a religion that justified their rape and inhumane treatment.
A salient example of this can be found in Alice Walker‘s novel The Color Purple. In the novel, Celie, y’all remember Celie don’t you? “You and me us never part, makidada…..” Celie, a confused Christian who was taught to worship a god that's a big, white, old, bearded, barefooted man with bluish gray eyes finds herself wanting more and ends up disavowing a god to whom
she once bared her soul. In a letter to her sister, Nettie, she writes: “I don't write to God no more, I write you. What happen to God? ast Shug. Who that? I say.
She look at me serious. Big a devil as you is, I say, you not worried bout no God, surely. She say, "Wait a minute. Hold jus a minute here. Just because us I don't harass it like some people us know don't mean I ain't got religion."
What God do for me? I ast.She say, Celie! Like she shock. He gave you life, good health...Yeah, I say, and he gave me a lynched daddy, a crazy mama, a lowdown dog of a step pa and a sister I probably won't ever see again. Anyhow, I say, the God I been praying and writing to is a man. And act just like all the other mens I know. Trifling, forgitful and lowdown. She say. Miss Celie You better hush. God might hear you. Let 'im hear me, I say. If he ever listened to poor colored women the world would be a different