Earlier this week I was forwarded an email from a friend. Usually, I do not open all of the forwards I receive. However, on this day the forward came from a good source. It came from someone who shares the same issues I face on a daily basis. This someone is a black man who is a wonderful father. He is involved in his community, and he has dedicated his life to a profession that is praised and devalued. He is a teacher.
Attached to the forward was a link to an article entitled, Plight Deepens for Black Men, Studies Warn. With this title I could not ignore it. I quickly started to read. After the first two paragraphs a heavy feeling of depression set in. I became semi-numb. The statistics listed were not only alarming they frighten me and encouraged me to write a brief sermon. The sermon you are about to read is a depiction of where many black men are today. Our lives are in disarray, shambles, in a mess. And, the future is scary. Who is going to lead us? What will happen to our children? When will we stop negatively reacting to our fears?
When will we understand that God approached the man in the beginning and asked “Where are you?” to help us make the decision to do RIGHT.
Genesis 3: 8-10
They heard the sound of the Lord walking through the Garden of Eden at the time of the evening breeze, and Adam along with Eve hid themselves from the presence of the Lord among the trees of the garden. But the Lord called to the man, Adam, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
Adam’s mistake and disobedient behavior has caused significant damage to the human race. Due to his actions many of us cannot look in the mirror and be pleased with the reflection. We can’t because we see our polluted souls. We are polluted with all the things that have caused “the plight”. What are those things? Let me inform you by asking the black man four questions. The answers you read to the questions have been provided by three black men.
Question: What have we been hiding from?
Question: How have we been hiding?
-A deliberate and conscience misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the truth.
Question: When do we begin to hide?
-When we know we are wrong, and it has been discovered.
-When we have no where else to hide. All of our believed “safe-havens” are used up.
-When we realize God is chasing us.
Question: Where do we hide?
-In excessive drug and alcohol consumption.
-In wasteless spending.
-In unhealthy relationships.
Fear is defined: a feeling of alarm caused by awareness or expectation of danger.
What danger did Adam fear? Why was he so concerned about God’s reaction?
Did he know he was wrong? Was he ashamed of his nakedness? Did he expect to be punished?
Usually, when we are “in the wrong” we perfectly understand our actions will eventually cause some kind of negative consequence. For example, when we fail to be true fathers to our sons, we surely recognize there is a high possibility our sons will grow up lacking in the department of character. So, why do we continue this vicious cycle of generational curses? When speaking of a curse, one usually believes someone wished the curse upon them. In this situation we are primarily responsible for the repeated occurrences of the generational curse.
It is simply too easy for us to be mediocre. No one requires much from the man any longer. Women are settling for whatever approaches them, employers are hiring anyone that wants to make a quick dollar, and those who are not concerned with career development; our parents, particularly our fathers, are absence from our lives, so we don’t have an expectation from the father to be a good black man. In light of this, why not breeze right through life with no direction, no focus, no accountability, and no desire to implement change of the African American condition?
I will tell you why: This is not the black man’s purpose. We are not here to die without any connection to God’s ultimate plan for our lives.
We need to face fear head on even when we create the problem. We can do this with courage.
Courage, so often needed and desired, but rarely used. It takes a lot of effort and dedication to be courageous.
Muhammad Ali proved this when he told the American government, “I ain’t got no problem with a Vietcong”, after he was drafted to the United States Army.
Walter Rodney, former Prime Minister of Jamaica, set an example of this before he was brutally assassinated by an opposing group of the Jamaican government.
Patrice Lumumba, former Prime Minister of the Congo, resisted the European governments while fighting to unify and protect the African people.
My grandfather, Inky Payne, proved to be a man of courage as he worked for an organization in Thomasville, North Carolina who’s objective was to challenge the racist politically decisions of the local self appointed white leaders.
The black man has had numerous examples of what it takes to be a good man. Some of these examples were in the home and some were icons. So, we do not have much of an excuse. We have failed to use the examples to our benefit. We have ran from our issues instead of embracing them. When will we stop running?
The statistics support the following statement: We are running out of time.
“I Ain’t Never Scared” is a phrase in a rap song. It is not something the black man has lived by in the past twenty-thirty years. We have been scared for a long time. Again, the statistics support me. Yes, the system plays an ENORMOUS role in the demise of black men. However, I have to admit we have been the ones to continue with behavior we know is unbecoming and short of what God desires. I know this because I, myself, have and continue to run from God despite the understanding I have of what it takes to answer God’s call.
God did not create us to be fearful. He created a man in his image. God is not afraid. God is not shiftless and lazy. God is a great father, not a deadbeat. God is respectable. God is not uncaring. He is loving. God is not stubborn. He is humble. God is… No need for me to continue. The Black man knows what God represents.
Are you still scared?
Sermon written by Brian E. Payne. Inspired by Patrick Medley, the dedicated teacher.