Posts Tagged ‘community development’

Matthew 6:24 – No one can serve two masters for either he will hate the one and love the other or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve GOD and Mammon

Sometimes, beloved, the attraction of wealth, the lure of financial benefit makes us do irrational things. Yes, we need money. We want to get paid. We want some money. And there are those in the church who are handicapped by the love of money. And as the Word says, the love of money is the root of all evil. (1 Timothy 6:10). The word Mammon in the text is defined by Webster’s as material wealth or possession especially as having a debasing influence. Debasing is to lower the value of or reputation of someone or something or to make someone or something less respected.

I’ve observed and heard the news as 100 Black pastors gathered to meet with Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump. The announcement of this meeting ignited a firestorm of controversy in our community as folk assumed and prognosticated that perhaps these pastors were money hungry and preparing to fleece the flock. Some folks, if not most, objected to even entertaining a meeting with Mr. Trump because of the tenor of his rhetoric. He’s a racist, some say. He’s too abrasive and offensive others say. Others saw the meeting as yet another example of how the black church, in their opinion, is selling the black community out, fleecing the flock, ripping us off. After all, they say, why would the pastors meet with a man who spews racially charged venom and espouses overtly racist perspectives except to go behind closed doors and get paid. Mammon.

Others say that “Trump is not who the media portrays him to be” while even others say yes, let’s wait and see what comes out of the meeting. Indeed Black America is not this monolithic segment of society. Black America is not following one and only one train of political thought. There are a variety perspectives and opinions. The Black Pastors are not going to influence the entire population of Black America.

From the start, this story vexed my spirit because the first headlines trumpeted and proclaimed that these 100 were endorsing Trump. This endorsement was a hard pill to swallow for many if not most in the Black community. It felt as if this 100 were bought and paid for. Others would say this was another example of “Pimp Preachers” who would sell out the well being of their congregations and communities for the almighty dollar.

Soon after the endorsement headlines came the correction. The 100 were meeting with Trump and not endorsing him. Ok, now that was better, sort of. Then the headlines came that Trump had cancelled the meeting. Shortly afterwards another headline – the meeting is on again. Then it was off again. It was an absolute mess. The pastors called it a “miscommunication” but the public was getting restless, angry and very critical. Social Media was afire with displeasure. Yes, The influence of the black church, the reputation of the pastors were being reduced and denigrated right before our very eyes and in the community’s court of public opinion. Debased.

In the end, a meeting and press conference was hastily held and I am still trying to assess its purpose. What were the goals and objectives? What was the agenda?

After the meeting I began to see the sound bytes and news inserts that featured pastors who were in attendance. Preachers struggling to wax philosophical about the content of the gathering. But these interviews only underscored and contributed to the debasing of the office of the pastor and the influence of the black church. It is clear that they went into the meeting without a clear agenda. No platform. It was freestyle rooted in ego. And some of the pastors who spoke on national news platforms to defend and explain the meeting were probably excellent preachers, however they obviously had no community development experience or perspective. No urban policy exposure. No social justice experience. The news reports were full of empty rhetoric and shallow cliches.

So I began to contemplate this spectacle and wondered  where Jesus was in the pastors movement. What does the word say about this?

It’s my opinion that the pulpit is not the proper place to advance political endorsements. Indeed the Black Church should present itself available, present and active in the pursuit of social justice. The church can be a catalyst to institute programs which will enhance economic justice and be committed to alleviating poverty as tangible expressions of the kingdom of God. For me, the pulpit is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ – the risen savior. But when it comes to politics we should inspire and encourage the people to exercise the hard fought right to vote. However, we should abstain from the telling the people who to vote for. Even if it wasnt true, the appearance of this meeting is that the pastors were seeking a financial consideration in exchange for political support. After all, Trump did say he would “remember them”. Mammon.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, giving of thanks for all men, for kings, and all who are in authority that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence, for this is good and acceptable in the sight of GOD, our savior who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Yes, we are instructed to pray and intercede for everyone even politicians for it is them that we count on to maintain law and order in this society so that we may lead quiet and peaceful lives. This, the scripture says is good and acceptable in the sight of the LORD. And Jesus said in Matthew 22:21 to render, therefore to Ceasar what is Ceasars and to God the things that are God’s.

Even as we are citizens of God’s Kingdom, we are still encourage to abide by the laws of this society and as such we can participate and have a voice in society. In this area, the Black Church is central. It is the beacon of hope, the voice of reason, the lightning rod of liberation in our struggle against social and political oppression. Or at least that was our reputation. We follow the teachings of Jesus to establish a peaceful march towards equality in this nation. A peaceful march in spite of unmitigated violence and hatred against our people. Our struggle has been like Jesus’ walk on earth. They hated Jesus. They sought to kill him. Silence Him. Yet Jesus kept preaching, walking in love. These days headlines are full with those who would hate us even unto death, yet we walk in love.

They tried to trick and discredit Jesus. In Matthew 22:15-40, Jesus had become so popular and influential that the Pharisees threw some trickeration in the game seeking to find a way to discredit Jesus. They sought to trick him into doing crimes so egregious it would require a death sentence. Likewise there are those who would seek to kill us, discredit us and annihilate us yet we still excel, build, achieve and create in love. Still we rise!!! Our community is being deceived into thinking that we are less than unwanted. We are tricked into promoting violence, misogyny and wanton sexual immorality that discredits our place at the table of equality in America.

The church today is tricked by the lure of TV, and materialism,the trappings and titles that lead men towards the love of money, which is the root of all evil.

The people look to religious leaders for peace, order and insight to their spiritual lives. In Church economics, this is the point of currency exchange. Crassly spoken, the people will pay to know and learn what GOD thinks. They will pay to be inspired by the word of GOD. This “payment” is the support of the church. The support of the work of the LORD. This is just. And there are biblical guidelines as to how the church goer should pay and how the church leader should steward the money. Yes, the people must support the work of the church. But sometimes money becomes the main thing that the church leader focuses on. He or she becomes a lover of money. Likewise some leaders become so consumed with power that they appoint themselves as the voice of a population of people. A voice that can influence votes, be a catalyst of action for the candidates. Be subject to the candidates behest, thus serving the candidates or political leader and not the true head of the Christian State – GOD. This is religious oppression.

Oppression because the church leaders are called to a meeting with a political candidate who thinks that the flock carries political opinions like the church leader or they believe the church leaders can influence the flock to embrace the ideology of said candidate. And the benefit of promoting the candidates ideology is money. After all I’ve observed, I believe the attraction of wealth and the lure of financial benefit draws the pastors to Donald Trump. Mammon.

We have to use religion to inspire love, grace and mercy. The prophet proclaimed  “Is not this fast I choose to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free. And that you break every yoke.. ” We are here to facilitate spiritual freedom.

When Jesus boldly claimed to be the messiah in the synagogue in Luke 4:18 as he shares that he is come to proclaim liberty to the captives and set at liberty those who are oppressed.  To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD…  Freedom!

As Ministers of the gospel there is more at stake than politics. When Jesus speaks of liberation is liberation of the soul – of the core essence of his people. To present ourselves as the one voice of the people, a person who can influence and cause the Body of Christ to vote a certain way is to inflict religious oppression on the people and this is not what Jesus wants us for us. We are God’s people so we live by the spirit not the law.

In the end, we have to pursue social justice. We have to promote love and peace in our communities. We have to let our light so shine so that the community will know that Jesus is love. That we are a beacon of hope. A beacon of hope. A catalyst for Freedom. To move forward in a private meeting with one who on the outside appears to be against the very essence of your struggle for equality in this country, one who would return to the breaking of your spirit without an agenda, without preparation is to present yourselves as lovers of money. We  cannot serve God and Mammon.

Trump and the Pastors? A debased influence.