I am excited about the possibility of and the blessings of unity (Psalm 133).
I have had the opportunity to go into several countries around the world, and without qualifiers I proudly proclaim these United States of America the best nation in the world. In spite of my jubilation over this great country, I am troubled by the by the racial climate. I have watched, with growing concern, as our nation — and yes, our county — grows more polarized each day.
While we can point a finger at the Confederate flag, Black Lives Matter or a host of other similar things, the real culprit is our nation’s refusal to deal with underlying prejudices and intolerance. Until we seriously work on the real problem, we will continue to see each issue as a “white vs. black, rich vs. poor, straight vs. gay, Christian vs. Islam, etc.” issue.
During the 1960s, Americans fought hard and were successful in overcoming legalized segregation. We celebrated as Jim Crow signs were taken down and poll taxes and literacy tests were abolished. Just recently, we saw South Carolina remove the Confederate flag from its statehouse grounds. But that was only part of the solution. The law can stop overt actions but cannot make people love or respect each other. We need something better than the law.
The Old Testament prophet Ezekiel looked at the valley and saw the dry bones come together. The bones looked good and even had flesh on them, but there was no life. Then the Lord told Ezekiel to preach to the four winds and have the winds blow on the lifeless corpses. The wind blew, and the former dry bones rose into a mighty army.
We have come a long way from the dry bones of the 1950s, but we still lack life. We look good; integration and equal opportunity are the law of the land. But under the façade, we are just corpses in need of fresh air. I cannot say that the problem is all on one side of race line. We have bigotry coming from black and white, clergy and laity.
I have a dream that, one day, the wind of love, respect, tolerance and unity will blow so strong across America that Missionary Baptists and Southern Baptists, Church of God members and Church of God in Christ members, African Methodists and United Methodists will join together and sing, “Through many dangers toils and snares, I have already come; ’tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” I have a dream that is deeply rooted in the American dream, and when this happens, we can began to deal with the real issue — we simply do not love and respect one another.
Today, we are engaged in political and ideological battles that really do try the soul of our great county. Subsequently, I believe it is even more important that we take time to pray. So I pray, “God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou who hast brought us thus far on the way, thou who hast by thy might, led us into the light, Keep us forever in the path, we pray. Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee. Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee. Shadowed beneath thy hand, may we forever stand, true to our God, true to our native land.”
Remember: “You will know they are Christians by their love.”
Scott is the pastor of Baconton Missionary Baptist Church and vice president of the United Ministerial Alliance.