A few weeks ago I was in the Christian bookstore searching for a Valentine's Day card for my husband. As I was walking to the register to check out, I noticed a small table with a "SALE" sign. I am no stranger to being lured to any sign that indicates a sale. What surprised me was what I found on that table. Beside the "sale" sign sat another sign indicating that February was black history month. The table contained an assortment of books that focused on Black Christians. Some of the authors were African American, others were not, but their point was the same. Each book was a reminder that February held more than just recurring snowstorms. One could cynically argue that the bookstore was trying to drum up business through catering to African American Christians. Perhaps that was a part of the motivation but the fact is the bookstore owner took the time to recognize what many Christians overlook. A little over a month ago the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. took place. After the long fight to establish Dr. King's birthday as worthy of recognition, it passes by with little fanfare, save for a few clips on the nightly news. There was more attention given to informing women to wear red during the month of January to recognize the fight against heart disease, the number one killer of women. It seems ironic that other holidays drum up tons of attention. There are special sales that take place for President's Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day, not to mention huge national celebrations for Independence Day (a.k.a Fourth of July). From special discounts at the malls to car dealerships, we are urged to take advantage of and recognize these special holidays. I haven't seen car dealers offer special savings on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. I wonder how many folks even know February is Black History month? Are teachers educating their students about this part of our nation's history? How many people on the street if stopped and asked could name a black individual besides Martin Luther King, Jr. who made a significant impact or contributed greatly to our country's growth? An even more frightening thought is how many Christians if asked could accomplish the same task as the person on the street? Sadly, the church is still in the dark when it comes to addressing racial issues within the body of Christ and movement towards reconciliation. I am currently reading a book by a black evangelical, Edward Gilbreath, entitled, "Reconciliation Blues": A Black Evangelical's View Inside of White Christianity. Mr. Gilbreath draws our attention to his personal struggle with the lack of understanding of the black experience in the church and his attempts to try and "fit in" to the majority view's paradigm. Jesus knew very well how differences divide and it was His mission to erase and heal those differences. He was often seen hanging out with "Samaritans" the so-called "half breeds" despised by the Jews. It was because of Jesus that a Samaritan woman found new life in Christ and she in turn led other Samaritans to Jesus. (John 4:1-42) One of Jesus' most powerful parables featured a Samaritan as it's hero. (Luke 10:25-37) Paul reminded his listeners in Galatians that there are no divisions in the kingdom of God. (Galatians 3:26-29) Finally, Revelation gives us a glorious picture of all the nations of the world worshipping the Lord. (Revelation 5:9-10) I am thankful for that Christian bookstore owner's efforts to educate God's people through recognition of black history month. Our challenge is not to continue to perpetuate the sins of this fallen world and our culture but to be like Jesus in the forefront of showing the world God's heart for reconciliation. Celebrate the One who created heaven and earth through education and recognition of the diversity of people He created and their contributions to the kingdom of God!
Peace In Christ,