Sermons, Social Policy

Black and Woke and Christian? Revolutionary and Christ Following

Being revolutionary and spiritually aware are not mutually exclusive.

I’ve had people ask me how I could be a revolutionary while also practicing Christianity, the “white mans” religion. In response, t I want to address the idea that Christianity is a “white man’s” religion because it is not. The Bible was not written by white people, the people in the stories were not white and the religion was not ‘created’ by white people. The way that Christianity is practiced in the United States has been organized by white people due to the fact that Christianity, being framed as the religion was what we [African slaves] were taught to follow as a result of our being taken captive into the United States. The stories in the Bible were taken and manipulated by white people early in United States’ history to control African people, but I cannot speak to how exactly my family converted or came upon Christianity. However, assuming that my ancestors were forced to adopt Christianity as a result of the loss of their original traditions in Africa, like Nat Turner I find more truth and positivity in my practicing Christianity than what I can dismiss just because of the way that religion has been framed by Western society. Religion is organized and limited as a result, but a relationship with God is always accessible. As a critical thinker, I know better than to allow cultural ideologies to dictate my position on a topic, especially when it comes to my ‘religious’ beliefs. I’d like to add that don’t consider myself a religious person and I don’t consider my relationship with my creator religiously convicted, but I recognize the fact that religion helps us to organize amongst each other and there are specific aspects of Christianity that resonate with me and therefore it is a substantial part of my identity.
The first important aspect of my faith is that the general goal for a Christian (Christ follower) is to be like Christ. Why wouldn’t I want to do my best to mirror the ways of Jesus? He was awesome, which is why every aspect of his life has been recorded by multiple authors and preserved for centuries. The Bible while it contains stories of many influential characters, it is mainly a story about the birth, life and death of Jesus. The only man who has ever lived without sin, that was born from the virgin Mary through the supernatural power of God in order to live a perfect life as an example for all those who would believe in him for generations to come. Another aspect of Christianity that comforts and reassure me as a believer is that God’s love for us is unconditional through Christ. Due to the fact that God sent is one and only son to die for the sins of all man, there is nothing we can do to separate us from God’s love. Like a brother taking a bullet for his younger sibling so that they could live. The fact that God can’t help but give us mercy and grace is a powerful declaration. The creator of my soul can never stop loving me because of the righteous sacrifice that was made in order to save me (from myself and this world). Now it is my duty to do all I can in my life to share that knowledge with others in their journey. This leads me to our most important role on this planet, our most important task is to love. We are to love God more than anything and love each other the way we love ourselves. This should be easy, but this world is designed to make unconditional and unmotivated love very difficult. In a world of self-centered instant gratification we easily forget about the impact we have on each other, our power and our purpose. As believers our job is to make love the center of our world and demonstrate that to those who have yet to discover it’s power.

Our confidence in life is dependent on our connection with our creator.

To be confused isn’t satisfying. In the same way that a relationship with our parents (or some guardian figure) is crucial for our development, so is having a relationship with our spiritual creator. The purpose of this world (especially in Western society) is to distract us from that connection. Through being distracted, our connection with our creator degrades until our focus is on worldly things: money, greed, power, sex, etc. None of those things are satisfying and as we can see in the United States, capitalist democracy a money centered society leads to death in all areas death of animals, humans and the earth at an alarming rate all for the sake of nothing.
I want to respond to those who argue that organized religion (again I’m not a ‘religious’ person) is used to suppress our ability to fight back, pointing to the phrases of scripture that state ‘turn the other cheek’ or ‘revenge is mine (God’s not ours)’. We know that portions of the Bible are used to paint different pictures from different perspectives. The Bible was used to suppress slaves for as long as slaves were unable to read it themselves. If we want to use a tool for our own purposes then we have to gain control over that tool: read it ourselves, translate it ourselves and teach it to each other. This goes for every aspect of our lives, from financial education to cultural history. For far too long we’ve depended on our oppressor to educate us and that is, to say the least foolish and self-destructive.

Respect for my ancestors is what keeps my faith strong.

Contrary to what some may believe, it is a connection and respect for my ancestors that keeps my faith strong. My ancestors built churches and spread the gospel just as I hope to do in my writing. My father’s side of the family were refugees that fled to Detroit from the state of Georgia after the church they built was burned down by the KKK. The new church that was constructed in Detroit, The Gordy Memorial Church of God and Christ, is still fully operational today. On my mother’s side of the family my grandfather was a deacon and his ministry continues to provide annual scholarships to high school graduates pursuing college through Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA. The ability to inspire others to connect to God through the understanding of the living word has been a cherished aspect of my family history for generations.
Being Christian is not exclusive to being a revolutionary. In my eyes the two identities go hand in hand. My faith only enhances my ability to understand the world around me. In the Bible I can see how God’s people are consistently distracted and oppress by the forces of the world, the powerful majority. I saw that regardless of how large of an inheritance that there was waiting for God’s people, there were always wicked people of the world who would do everything in their  power to distract and oppress. However, studying the Bible also proves that God always wins. This knowledge revolutionizes the way I think about the society I live in, America the home of the largest incarcerated population in the world. I know that there is a greater force taking care of those designed to inherit God’s promises.  read revolution over and over again in the Bible. The Bible is filled with stories of the oppressed minority using God’s power to overtake their oppressor. Our community has a lot to learn from the Bible and Christ’s way of life. Whether you’re Christian or not, anyone can take a lesson from the book of life.
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About Amani Sawari

I am a University of Washington alum, Class of 2016. I graduated with my Bachelors Degree in two majors: Media and Communications AND Law, Economics and Public Policy. It’s a mouthful but it illustrates how I have a hard time doing only one ‘thing’. I am a writer, poet, singer, songwriter and much more. I enjoy sharing my experiences and perspectives with those who are interested and I am a proud member of the black diaspora!

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