A solution for the condition of the African American Community (continued)
“What has happened to us?” Why is it that we lead the nation in almost every negative statistic? Is the power of the gospel strong enough to change the plight of the African American community? These three questions remain at the forefront of my thoughts as I continually hear about weekly killings and maladies in African American communities. Unless we are interested in real change, no amount of marching, protesting, or voting can deliver us from the many ills that plague our people.
How do we change this plight that we are in? In part one, I said that our crisis is a spiritual crisis. Jesus Christ said in Mark 7:21-22. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. The root of our problems lies in the hearts of our people. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ addresses the hearts of men and women. So then the driving question should be, How Can The Gospel Change The Plight Of The African American Community? In answering this question, we find solutions to the plight of the African American community. Since I stated that our problem is a spiritual issue, we have to identify the spiritual issue and see how the spiritual issue leads to the problem. In my last blog, I stated that the underlying cause of the spiritual problem lies in the African American church. The church is where living out the gospel of Jesus is supposed to be taught. Black churches are not teaching our people how to walk with Jesus. It must repent of its failure in accurately teaching the scriptures, its emotional hype, its failure to call our people into account for how they live, a host of other failures, and particularly its failure to help our people critique our world through the lens of the gospel. Before anything can be done to help our plight repentance has to take place our churches.
Secondly, we must address the entitlement program in America which reflects another spiritual issue. In our quest for equality, African Americans began looking to the government for relief from the racist and discriminatory practices of our society. It was the right thing to do as citizens of this country. However as various laws got passed, African Americans began relying on the government for their well-being and as the sustainer of their living. As a result, the government, through entitlement programs became one of the primary instruments in dissecting African American families and enslaving them through systems of dependency. The government is stripping from the African American communities its male presence as leaders, providers, and protectors of our homes and communities. Since I previously addressed the effect the entitlement program has had and continues to have on our families, let's turn our attention to the effect it is having on the education of African Americans. Under the entitlement program families get free food, free housing, free medical, free lunch, free transportation, free books, subsidized utilities, and numerous charitable contributions for various things. In school they get special services for kids with special needs, i.e. they have some learning dysfunction. Parents get money for those kids with special needs. Apart from arguing for or against the valid need for these, I only want to cite the ultimate effect it has on the people who qualify for these entitlements (I do realize that there are exceptions). Too much "free stuff" removes personal responsibility and industry. So then how is the education of our children affected? When children grow up in a system where everything is free, that system creates a mentality of entitlement and dependency with no expectation of responsibility or reciprocation. It removes the desire to do better when the essential needs are being met. Children in this type of system have an entitlement mentality in the classroom. It surfaces as getting good grades with no true effort or real learning. One affirmation of my statement is revealed in the low performance on state testing as well as ACT and SAT scores. One reason that graduation rates and test scores have been so low is that testing reveals learning. Some advocates try to argue that the testing is biased but as an educator, I disagree. Many of the public schools are integrated. Black children are in the same classrooms as others, yet they perform at a far less level. They get the same teaching from the same teachers in the same schools. The main problem is effort and taking personal responsibility for their education and well-being. Why is that? Through getting all of that free stuff from the government, they are groomed not to be responsible for themselves or have a hand in their own education. So then what is the government's answer to such low performance? The government funds more programs to help our kids who are not putting in the effort to help themselves. Consequently, shrewd people figure out how to come up with programs to "help our children" (in reality help themselves at our expense), and the government pays them tons of money to rectify a situation that can be mostly improved by effort. Our children become the "prostitutes" of personal gain for others through their failure to put forth an adequate effort to learn. Companies and consultants thrive on our children's failures since there is an absence of due diligence and personal responsibility on our part. The result of this education dilemma is that more black kids drop out or do not end up with a high school diploma. Afterward, the chain reaction begins. Since they can't get a decent job and they have been groom to get something for nothing, many resort to illegal activities to sustain life. Some of the killings and robberies that we see are efforts to obtain without diligence, personal responsibility, and hard work.
The things that I mention are manifestations of the underlying issue, which is a spiritual issue. Why do I cite this issue as a spiritual issue? The practices of the people and the function of the system encourage people to live contradictory to the manner that God intended. How does the gospel address this issue? When Christ comes into a person's heart, he changes that person in many ways. One way he changes us is that he empowers us to depend on him and not on a program or an institution.
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19.
Another way that the gospel changes people is that it encourages diligence, personal responsibility, and hard work.
“Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways!” “You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.” Psalms 128:1-2.
For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 2 Thessalonians 3:8
Gospel living commands us to work, to contribute to the needs of others, to be stewards of our time, talents, and resources. We are to take full advantage of the opportunities given us, and specifically those our children have in education. Those who sit back and wait on others to do for them contradict the kind of living that Christ empowered them to do.
Paul said this. “I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called… Ephesians 4:1
"Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands so that he may have something to share with anyone in need." - Ephesians 4:28
As we live out the gospel and its principles, we are urged to live differently because of who we are in Christ Jesus. People move from being takers to contributors toward a better society. Being a contributor to society becomes a part of who we are in Christ Jesus and the manner in which we live.
The principles for real change have been given to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I do agree that people need help but not at the expense of their humanity, personal responsibility, and, in the long run, a degraded culture. The entitlement program in its present form in hinders the education of our children and ultimately we see its effects in the negative outcomes in our communities. The gospel not only empowers us but guides us in effective changes that make our communities better. The cost of these changes was paid on the cross. Christ has given us the wherewithal for real change.
The second step to changing the plight of the African American community is through applying the principles of the gospel to the entitlement program and the manner in which government funds education. This change is not a political change. That is why politicians cannot help us. This change is a change that must begin with God's people and God's institution, the church in the African-American community. We must begin practicing our faith and standing in our true identity as believers in Christ Jesus. The gospel is right here, right now. The power of the gospel to change our plight is right here right now. The possibility of change does not lie with government, white folks, jobs, education, or anything else that can be named. A genuine change of the plight of the African American community lies in the hands of those who know Jesus Christ and who dare to influence their world by being the salt and light Christ called us to be. The ball of change is in our hands. Will we by faith take it or will we cower back and complain?
The Gospel has the Power to Change the Plight of The African American Community.
With Much Love And Concern For Black Folks,
Pastor Lawrence Robinson