The Chasing Justice Book Club will serve the purpose of highlighting BIPOC voices that are doing the courageous work of sharing their experience and expertise while supporting the authors. Join us in the CJ Book Club private FB group for weekly discussion topics and discourse. The CJ Podcast will also host a monthly Book Club episode with the author to discuss and answer your questions. Enjoy the following excerpt from our inaugural book club selection Truth’s Table: Black Women’s Musings on Life, Love, and Liberation.
From the chapter “Reborn to Resist” By Christina Edmondson
Christian nationalism, or any other form of Christian paganism, creates mini-gods meant to kill us. When we see it, we should reject, denounce, and run. Why? Because death is sin’s endgame. Whether it’s the pet sins that hold you in bondage to please others and satiate yourself or the systemic sins that plague communities, its endgame seeks to drag us to the grave. And this ain’t Marvel, y’all; this is real life. Sin’s goal is not only to kill our culture by putting us in whiteface; it ultimately wants to wreck our bodies, minds, and souls. Fake Christianities and real oppression are busy wrecking our collective Christian witness. The empire of Christian nationalism is naked, and even through tear-stained eyes, let us see its legalism, abuse, and manipulation.
There is a Christianity, and much more marvelously, a Christ, who offers us a faith of both acceptance and resistance. We are reborn to resist. This Christianity is the one that makes African Americans resist racism and injustice and reject pie-in-the-sky theology. I know that when hurt by the representatives of the church, some of us will be tempted to throw the baby Jesus out with the corrupted bathwater. But if we do not pursue healing, wisdom, and justice, we will deconstruct ourselves into self-destruction.
What inclines us to listen to voices of destruction more than voices of empowerment? What makes us pay more attention to the instruction of the Church of “Our Kind of People” than the God of Fannie Lou Hamer? Which god is dictating our thoughts? The Jesus that needs you to make him credible? Earthly power is wrong about who Jesus is. So why do we believe its lies? Some of us want to sanitize the idea of Jesus, and others want to rush to defend Jesus. Like the apostle Peter, who in the span of twenty-four hours went from defending with a sword to denying with his mouth.
But there is another way: to learn the transformative ways of Jesus. This is what sanctification means. And together in sacred community, we can seek this out. Together, we must see to it that we do not live as if unwittingly agreeing with white supremacy that Jesus is a white man who upholds the caste systems in our awakening . Together, we resist—from continent to continent, generation to generation—whispering truth to one another.
So here are questions for us to reckon with, questions that come from a faith that produces necessary resistance: Can Christ be corrupted? Is there a Christ who predates whiteness and America and our present-day political factions?
As we sit with these questions, we must consider our surroundings. All things are but a vapor, yes, but there’s a difference between that and a noxious gas. We must be wary of the fumes we breathe.
We must be born again through the real Jesus who calls us to resist sin and rest in grace.
Listen to the real Jesus’s words to this crowd, and to our crowded hearts:
Again Jesus called the crowd to Him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.” (Mark 7:14–15)
Jesus’s words here matter. In a world sick with injustice, this matters. For the one in three women abused before age eighteen, this matters. In Christ, even under the weight of trauma and bigotry, we stand uncorrupted. So we do the work of guarding the heart which is revealed by what comes out of it. Christ knows this matter intimately, as he is accused of being a tool for the enemy when he draws near to the sinful and sinned against with great compassion. Yet sinful people and systems don’t contaminate him. He has enough righteousness to clean the dirty feet of the disciples. Enough holiness to stand between guilty men dying. Enough purity to eat with prostitutes. What Christ alone makes clean is clean forevermore. So we need to lament the evil co-opting of Christ’s name for purposes of domination, but we need not fear that somehow the real Jesus is no longer divine, just, and full of grace toward us. Greater is he that is in you than the enemy that is in the world (1 John 4:4).
It bears repeating: Jesus’s love for the beloved predates earthly caste systems, whiteness, misogyny, and every kind of injustice. God’s love will outlast every wrong. The Creator’s agenda of grace is upheld by a mighty arm of power and sovereignty. Christ is greater than the corruption all around us and within our hearts, and most importantly, he is unintimidated by it. In the face of environmental injustice, multigenerational trauma, and medical racism, Christ draws near even now. In the face of the self-idolatry, rebellion, unforgiveness stewing in our own hearts, Christ draws near even now.
Emanuel means “God is with us,” and God is with us in the midst of the evils, addictions, and traumas that plague us. He will also be God with us in our deliverance and eternal wholeness. Yes, God was there feeling the full weight of suffering in the bottoms of slave ships. Yes, God was there among the children desperate to escape the powerful hoses knocking them to the ground. Yes, God was there when they hurt you, silenced you, and blamed you for your own persecution or abuse. And we were there with him. The apple of his eye and the center of his heart, we were there as he died at the hands of an oppressive government, an unrepentant religious order, and rebellious humans. We were in the breaths that uttered the words “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” It was his love and remedy to our sins and shame that kept him on the cross. We were there because we were on his mind and in his heart. God is with us, so we are reborn to resist.
Excerpted from Truth’s Table by Ekemini Uwan, Christina Edmondson and Michelle Higgins. Copyright © 2022 by Ekemini Uwan, Christina Edmondson and Michelle Higgins. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
In their literary debut, co-hosts Christina Edmondson, Michelle Higgins, and Ekemini Uwan offer stories by Black women and for Black women examining theology, politics, race, culture, and gender matters through a Christian lens. For anyone seeking to explore the spiritual dimensions of hot-button issues within the church, or anyone thirsty to deepen their faith, Truth’s Table provides exactly the survival guide we need. These essays deliver a compelling theological re-education and pair the spiritual formation and political education necessary for Black women of faith.
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