“I’m an African and I’m going to dance for the Lord!” These words were shouted by Michael Dublin Sr. in his message, “One church; ‘Why a Black Church’?” I still hear the words of freedom ringing in my ears, like water that runs into the shores of my ancestors. While they lived, loved, and worshipped God the way he allowed them to, men were ready to take the very fabric of their beings, rip them to shreds, and clothe them with their heritage.
Bro. Dublin starts out his message from the beginning in Genesis one through three, then making his way to chapter six, nine, and eleven. We gazed upon the creation of the world, the sin of Adam and Eve, and the tower of Babel. Babel is where God gave man different languages because they were trying to make a city that touched the heavens. God scattered man and each group of people landed in their prospective places.
We visited Matthew 1, when God comes among us through Jesus who is one of us. Then we fast forwarded to the end of Jesus’ life in chapter 28. He reveals there will be a comforter, the Holy Spirit, that will help us on our Christian journey in truth. Since we have the Holy Spirit, why do we need another ethnic group to teach us how to worship God and live out our God given purposes. It’s one thing to evangelize, it’s another to impose the way you believe because only yours is divine. After pondering that thought we were asked, “Imagine if you could live your whole heritage?” Wow! What if we as Africans in America, lived out our lives without feeling like we must submit to an earthly authority. How much livelier would we be if we were true to ourselves? Have we lost so much of our history over the past hundreds of years that we are lost? Can we change the ways we look at ourselves in a land that is ours, but not ours? So much has been stolen from us, but we can regain our strength in our culture that God so readily gave a long time ago.
Bro. Dublin read Matthew 28:19 as this, “Therefore go and make disciples of white nations, baptizing whites in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” Hold up, what? Acts 2:42 states, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer and the men were filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. The male believers were together and had everything in common….” Hold up now! That’s not what the scriptures says and yet this is exactly what we believe. We believe everything the whites say about God and we tell women they don’t have the gifts that God has bestowed upon them. We are a messed-up people. It’s sad that we have let our conqueror, conquer our thoughts, beliefs, and way of life. It is God and God alone whom we should be worshiping and asking for understanding.
We went Acts 10 where we see the life of Cornelius, a gentile, that God recognized as his before baptism. Peter still believed that the Gentiles were unclean people, so God showed him otherwise. Verse 15 states “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” After God reveals this to Peter he preaches to Cornelius and his family and they are baptized. Then he tells his fellow Jews the same information, and how God doesn’t show favoritism.
So, why the black church? The arrival of slaves in 1619 in Jamestown, VA saw them being baptized into Catholicism. The slaves were able to worship but in separation and were repeatedly taught, “slaves obey your masters” from Ephesians 6:5. There were a few black preachers and most were arrested and beaten for preaching to their own people. Were they afraid of what could become of our knowledge of the scriptures? The African church was beginning to be born and was giving rise to independent churches.
The founders of the “church of Christ” as we know it, were Campbell and Stone. They didn’t believe in slavery but thought whites were superior to blacks. Thus, conforming to the racial prejudices of that time. The black church established its own convention, while opposing instruments, and other innovations, as their white counterparts. So, the way we worship today is based on white beliefs and culture. Even testifying, which is in our African nature to do, has been suppressed. We have strong beliefs about what was taught to us therefore keeping ourselves enslaved to white superiority. There isn’t one belief we have that came from Africans. We have regurgitated the language of slavery and believe in our own submission. We have been programmed, and reprogrammed in the image of other people, neglecting our own heritage and way of worship.
Everyone can be saved in their culture. One isn’t better than the other. One isn’t demonic and the other heavenly based on the skin of the worshippers. Galatians 3:20 clearly states, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Revelation 5:9-10 tells us, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
We are free to worship God with the same energy and passion in America, as we did in Africa. I belong to Jesus Christ! I will dance before the Lord. He doesn’t condemn my praise. If jumping up and down and running for God offends you, it’s your issue not mine.
For all of us seeking God, just know there are things you have liberty in God to do. Don’t allow other humans to belittle, tame, crush, and master you. Jesus came to set us free before we were in chains. So, live my brothers and sisters. Live, live, live in Christ. When you seek him and find the confidence within yourself to be bold for the Lord, you will not submit yourself to someone else’s will.
As always, be blessed and stay sunny on the inside.