And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
(John 8:32, KJV)
Delivered on Sunday, February 12, 2006 at Broad Avenue Baptist Church 8a.m. worship
It is interesting to note here that Jesus relates freedom with truth. Most people believe liberation is an external condition. They think it is a matter of being free of shackles and chains. Our Lord, however, here says freedom ultimately is an internal matter. Indeed, the worst form of slavery is mental bondage. When one’ mind is bound, he can not dream nor image the possibilities that a freeman knows.
For so long this has been the plight of African Americans. Their minds were controlled by those who enslaved them. Malcolm X said that the real tragedy of American slavery was it taught people to hate themselves. African Americans despised the way they looked. Many used bleaching creams and hair straighteners to alter their appearances. When they could, they passed as a member of another race. They insulted their fellow dark complexed African Americans by calling them black. A sure prelude to a childhood fight prior to 1965 was for one to call another black. Equally deplorable to the Negro was his ancestral homeland of Africa. Tarzan moves, Jungle Jim comics, and social commentators taught him that Africa was a cursed land and its people a savage race. The African American thought of his place of origin as being nothing but jungle, swamps, apes, man-eating tigers, and crocodile. Furthermore, the black man was told that he did not have a history until the white man came and introduced him to culture and Christianity. Repetitively, the African American was told that plantation slavery was a blessing for an otherwise despised people.
Is it therefore any wonder that the African in America hated himself? Is it any wonder that Saturday night saw black people killing black people? Is it any wonder that many times when a Negro became successful he or she married a white spouse? Is it any wonder that many middle class blacks worked so hard to prove to whites that they were not like other blacks?
We can certainly see that slavery did not end with the Emancipation Proclamation or the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution. It did not end because black people were still captives mentally. White racist propaganda had them still victims because they thought of themselves as subhuman. The mere absence of external restraints did not end servitude.
Despite the dismal history of the miseducation of the Negro, we now see a glimmer of hope breaking upon the horizon. Historical truth is beginning to emerge. This truth is redefining the place and role of people of African descent. Serious scholarship has shown that African peoples’ history did not begin with slavery nor imperialism. Instead, it is agreed by archeologists, biologists, historians, linguists, and others that life began in Africa. The oldest known human skeleton has been found in Kenya. Biological evidence has shown that all other races upon the earth had a DNA gene common to this skeleton. This substantiates the truth of Acts 17:26 that says God”…hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.”
Furthermore, a careful study of the geographical descriptions contained in Genesis 2:10-14 of the Garden of Eden reveals that it was situated in Africa. Verse 13 says that one of the four rivers bordering the Garden, the Gihon compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.
The light of truth has also dispelled the myth that the black presence in the Bible is that of a minor role. Such ancient kingdoms as Egypt, Ethiopia, Kush,Abyssinia, and Phut were all located on the African continent. They are frequently mentioned in the Old Testament.
Furthermore, truth has shown that Christianity is not a white man’s religion as so many of our more secularly militant brethren have contended. From the very inception of this religion and its central character, Jesus of Nazareth, we see a strong African connection. As a babe, Jesus, His earthly father, Joseph, and mother, Mary, went into exile in Egypt to flee from the wrath of Herod. Furthermore, it was an African, Simon of Cyrene, who was impressed into assisting our Lord with His cross. It was an African, the Ethiopian eunuch who was tutored by Phillip on the meaning of our Lord’s crucifixion.
Then in the earliest days of Christianity following the Biblical revelation, we see Africans playing a prominent role in defending the faith and advancing its cause in a pagan world. Such noted early theologians as Augustine, Origen, Cyprian and Tertillian all hailed from the African continent.
Truth continues to beam forth telling us that people of African descent have been instrumental in the progress of civilization. For example, 2000 years ago around the shores of Lake Victoria in northern Tanzania Africans had produced carbon steel in draft furnaces that were able to reach temperatures as high as 2,500 F. It was not until the mid nineteenth century that Europeans were able to produce a similar technology.
Africans also made important early contributions to medicine, architecture, astronomy, and other fields. In fact, evidence has shown it was Egyptians, not the Greeks who developed philosophy as a discipline of study. All of the early Greek philosophers went to Egypt and there sat at the feet of the Egyptian priests who schooled them in logic and the dialectical method of reasoning. This is verified by the fact that philosophy is a foreign word in Greek and every other Indo-European language. Furthermore, the teaching of philosophy in Greece was initially met with hostility. For example, Socrates was forced into exile in 399 B.C. for teaching philosophy. Of course, later we know he was forced to drink hemlock in a state forced execution because of his ideas.
Africans were the first to domesticate the sheep, the goat, and cattle. They pioneered in husbandry and animal science. Independent of outside influence, the African developed agriculture. As was the case with other peoples around the globe, the African was able to harness the resources of the earth and stabilize his diet as agriculture enabled him to move from a hunting and gathering society to planting and harvesting crops.
I do not cite these accomplishments to suggest that Africans are superior to other races. Rather, I simply point out the truth that substantiates that neither are Africans inferior to others. The black race is not a cursed people. Neither are Africans hopelessly consigned to being hewers of wood and drawers of water for others.
Therefore, let us free our minds to the blessings of God. He loves us just as He does all people. Jesus Christ died for our sins just as He did for others. God has given us good gifts that will enable us to be anything that anyone else can be. If we believe in the truth of God, then we must believe in ourselves.
God expects us as Christians to act like a chosen people, a royal priesthood, and a peculiar people. God expects the redeemed of the Lord to love mercy, to do justly, and to walk humbly before our God. Truth is the key that will unlock the shackle that chains us to the sin of mediocrity, poor self esteem and idolatry. We must realize the truth will free us indeed!