I have to admit that his last speech at the National Press Club seemed poorly timed for Barack. But his interview on Bill Moyers was one of the most succinct and beautifully-expressed explanations of the African-American Christian experience and the often smacked-down “liberation theology” that I’ve heard. I wouldn’t want to put words in the mouths of the black pastors I meet with monthly in a small group, but I imagine they would say “amen” to his interview. Hey, I’m pasty white and I agreed with his observations.
Most of this isn’t about politics; it’s about the tension between nationalism and the Kingdom of God, and between the radically divergent paradigms of mainstream white evangelicals and black evangelicals. I hope it gets a conversation started. Face it—it’s the elephant in the room. And no, that wasn’t a not-so-subtle reference to the GOP. Honestly, this isn’t about politics. This is a Body of Christ problem.
One only has to hear Wright in context. Like most of us, sound bites simply don’t do justice. Can you imagine dismissing the moral, prophetic and theological relevance of the psalmists based on Psalm 137:9—“Happy is the one who takes your babies and smashes them against the rocks!” (NLT)? As a matter of fact, Wright’s interpretation of that particular verse through the eyes of the oppressed is masterful.
I’ve written about this before, so I won’t now, except to say: don’t get the Kingdom mixed up with Americanism. It’s not that America is a bad place; it’s just that America is made up of sinners. Just like England. Just like Germany. Just like Iran. Just like Israel. Otherwise, we’ll just stop planting churches and doing outreaches around here. Democracy may be the best human government; but it’s ultimately not what God has in mind. He’s building a Kingdom, and in His Kingdom, you don’t get a vote. You don’t get to decide what laws are passed. You don’t get to choose the type of judicial system you prefer. You don't get to form a lobby or PAC group. He’s the Benevolent Dictator. He has an asbestos bumpersticker on His fiery chariot that reads: My Kingdom…Love It or Leave It. And you don’t even get to agree to disagree. Get real.
What’s more, Christians are called to live incarnationally. That means we slip into the skin of the oppressed. Jesus didn’t just become like “us”…uh, like the average getting-by-okay-suburban guy. He became a slave who died a criminal’s execution. And then we’re told to have that same attitude in us, according to Philippians 2. That means the people with the power (and who ultimately has more Real Power than Christians?) must be the ones who reach out to empathize with (as Jesus did), to as best possible become one of (as Jesus did), to suffer with and for (as Jesus did)…the least, the last and the lost, as the cliché goes. It’s part of our gig, folks. And systemically, those people are typically the minority, the marginalized and those that look different from whomever has the power and money.
Anyway, watch Wright’s whole interview. And try to listen incarnationally first. Watch both part one and two; they're mind-stretching.
And be wary of the press…whether Fox or CBS. Bottom line: it’s really about ratings…and dollars.
Enough from me. This should stir the proverbial pot.