Ask an African- American of 2 generations ago who Jesus and they’ll probably tell you their Savior; their Messiah; the one who got them through some hard times. Ask a young person the same question and you’ll probably receive a halfway thought out answer, nothing significant. More times than not, I’m finding that young folks are turning away from organized religion and reaching for something that they believe has tangible or quantitative value. Why?
Attending church or just having plain faith has brought us an African people through many situations. From our singing of spirituals to keep our minds off of the cracker and his whip who was greedily watching our every move during our enslavement and Jim Crow, or while marching against injustice during the Civil Rights Movement, the belief that someday Jesus will come back and deliver us all out of this world to a place called heaven has given us a peace that surpasses understanding…. Now that the civil rights struggle has subsided due to the tokens given to shut us up, we look less towards the church and a risen savior. It’ll require more research to find out what we are turning to exactly, but more often than not the church is seen as the place to catch up on gossip, perpetrate righteousness, and see family and friends on certain holidays or to get a “word” from the Lord like your fix for the week.
There are many ways to get to the same end result. It’s no different when it comes to spirituality and seeking the glory of God. As I stated before, our people’s spirituality has gotten us through many dark days in our past, but that worked then. What have we gained now? Young people have questions that require answers, and the belief that someone with special powers is coming back to save us from the everyday hell the majority of African Americans live in just doesn’t suffice as a remedy. I’m in no way demeaning who Jesus Christ was in the history of human kind, but I don’t believe that believing that he is coming to save humanity will really save me from this Hell. Its up to me to elevate my mind from looking toward worldly things and keep myself from destroying myself with them. This is the core of what Jesus Christ taught. The renewing of your mind? What was his purpose in asking for heaven on Earth if the intention was to wait until we die to receive the glory of heaven? Do you really need to worship him gain a new perspective? Of course not.
The church is irrelevant because few pastors offer practical solutions to the problems young people are facing today. Your life doesn’t get any better or worse depending on your attendance at church and the truth is, just like any other business, the church of today needs your money too to stay valuable to your communities.
I’m no atheist, I believe in God. I was raised in the church, son of a pastor, read The Bible back and forth. I can quote scriptures and I’ve given a sermon (not one of my brightest moments). I say that to say I’m in no way bashing anyone’s religion. I believe all religions, no matter how kooky they’re perceived to be by those not practicing them, can have some truth. Its a fact that humans who believe in something even if its themselves have a better quality of life. We all should believe in something. Before to can find what that something is for you, do a little shopping. Not everyone is destined to say “Jesus is my Lord and Savior.” Or “Allah is all knowing.” Or whatever the case may be. Its OK to shop around and see if religion is right for you. If we teach that instead of cramming church down people’s throats I think we would live in a lot less guilt and the elevation of one’s mind would be a lot less stressful.
This is the first installment of InsideNianda. Please comment, share your thoughts, and pass along. I pray that i got off everything I wanted to say in a clear manner. Thanks for reading.