Yesterday was the 4th of July, Independence Day. I did not celebrate. I just wasn’t in the mood. I didn’t really feel there was anything to celebrate. There is a lot going on in the world which I find disappointing.
The year that this country gained its independence, my people were still slaves. We were slaves, and we remained so until 1865. Slavery for Africans in America lasted 245 years. Our ancestors began arriving in North America on slave ships in the 1620’s.
And when slavery finally ended we still didn’t have the rights of white Americans. For many of the now freed slaves, they continued to work for their former masters for very little pay. Some left their plantations as soon as they got the chance. Who could blame them? The prospect of real freedom and being in control of their own lives had to be a powerful lure. Black people were still looking for their “Independence Day.”
The civil rights movement began happening in 1955 and continue through the 60’s. Through marches and sit-ins and other peaceful demonstrations, black people strived to change the world in which they lived, still trying to find their independence day. They were beaten, blasted with fire hoses, arrested, attacked with police dogs, spit upon, murdered, burned, and simply hated by those who resisted change. At the time black people couldn’t sit at the front of the bus. We couldn’t eat in the same restaurants as white people or drink from the same water fountains. We couldn’t even shit in the same restrooms!
The leader of that movement, among others, was Martin Luther King Jr. He was assassinated in April of 1968. The movement seemed to lose steam after the death of King. However, a great many positive things came out of the civil rights movement. Things are better, but, sometimes it seems we have accomplished nothing. This is one of the reasons I didn’t feel like celebrating. It doesn’t seem like we as a country, the world, are doing any better when it comes to people actually getting along with one another and treating others with the respect they deserve.
Race is still a problem in the U.S… Race is a problem in every part of the world. And it’s not just racial problems, it’s religious differences, and sexual preferences, crimes against women, and against children. There seem to be a thousand things to divide the people of the earth and a million things, that if we can’t come to terms with, are going to kill us all in the end. It doesn’t seem like things will ever get better.
But this can’t be true! We have to be getting better somehow, some way. I believe that the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ mean something; did something! I want to believe that the Spirit of God has influence in this world, that He is gaining ground in the lives of the people of earth. I just can’t believe that evil is like a runaway freight train, running roughshod over the power of Christ. Jesus’ resurrection is said to have raised up all men. And Jesus himself said,
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32)
The apostle Paul says,
But when it was the good pleasure of God, who separated me, even from my mother’s womb, and called me through his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the gentiles; straightway I conferred not with flesh and blood… (Gal 1:15-16)
According to Paul, Christ was revealed to be in him. I like believing that Christ is in all men; they just don’t know it yet. I believe through preaching a more true gospel about who God is, and His incredible love for all men (and women), and that He has forgiven their sin, the world will continue to change as I believe it has been doing since His resurrection and ascension into the heavens.
Sometimes it seems impossible, but maybe it’s just a slow process. We’re not slaves today (at least not in the physical sense). That’s something, right? It’s a start, but we have a long way to go because we still have black churches being shot up. We still have black on white revenge killings. There are still religious wars and crimes against women, children, gay people, and midgets. There are still hateful teachings being propagated. But we are still learning. I believe the Lord will eventually deliver us completely out of darkness. His Spirit is still at work in all of us. And one day there will be a great celebration of a very real and permanent independence from darkness day.