Sunday morning, while everyone was still in bed, I took advantage of that time to have a cup of tea and spend a little time in reflection. But, as usual, when it was just getting good, in walks my son with his little sister, who decided she needed to go potty right at that moment, which she did.
Afterwards, I was cleaning up after her, when one of my daughters walks in and says “Good Morning,” adding that she had actually awakened a couple of hours earlier, but had decided to lie in bed a while longer.
“Well, praise God for the blessing of being able to sleep late,” I said.
“Really,” answered my daughter, misunderstanding my meaning, “Because if it wasn’t for the Lord, I might not have been able to get out of bed at all this morning.”
“True,” I added, “But that’s not what I meant. What I meant was that if it were not for Abraham Lincoln and men like him, we, as Blacks, would never be able to lie in bed until this hour of the morning. You know what I mean?”
“Yes, I do,” she answered, shaking her head as this reality dawned on her. “We would be working in the fields picking cotton.”
“There you go,” I said, happy that she understood this very important fact. Then, I quickly changed the subject in order to spare my children the sermon that was welling up inside me. I could tell they appreciated it.
I constantly remind my children that as Blacks we ought to appreciate every single freedom we have, because without the sacrifices of some brave and noble men and women—white men and women, by the way—who bought our freedoms with their own blood, Blacks would not even be considered human beings right now, let alone citizens of the great American republic.
It grieves me that many, if not most Blacks prefer to concentrate their energies on “how far we still need to go” and do not appreciate how unbelievably far we’ve come: and where we are, in fact, because there are still, many many people who, if they had their way, would ensure that Blacks would never enjoy the rights–rights, not privileges–guaranteed all Americans by the Constitution for the United States of America, the greatest document ever penned by the hand of man: the only document, in fact, that ever set man free.
Because my children and I are not only Black Americans, but Protestant Black Americans, living in Munich, a very Roman Catholic city in the very Roman Catholic state of Bavaria, Germany, I make it a point to always emphasize that we must, at all times, remember three very important things: who we are, what we are, and where we are. These three things are crucial if we are to stay grounded, stay saved, and stay grateful.
- Who we are: Black Americans, the descendants of slaves.
A slave in the United States was the absolute lowest form of existence, because a slave was not considered a person, but was the legal and lawful property of his master. Because of this status, slaves were routinely beaten, frequently killed, and always mistreated. And very few people cared. Even animals received better treatment than slaves. Horse thieves were shot or hung, but slave murderers were ignored.
Slavery was a perpetual condition, meaning that a slave’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren would also be slaves. And because slavery was also a permanent condition, a slave never stopped being a slave. He was born a slave, he lived a slave, and he died a slave. And if, by some miracle, a slave was either freed by his master or was bought and subsequently freed, he walked on egg shells, because there was always the very real danger he could be made a slave again, as it was believed that Blacks were only suited to be slaves.
The point I’m trying to make is that given the fact that Blacks don’t wield any real power in this world, and the further fact that there is an almost universal hatred of them, there is no reason that Blacks could not again be enslaved. I don’t think most Blacks fully appreciate this truth.
I believe that if Blacks in America were polled and asked if they thought slavery could be reinstituted, the overwhelming majority would answer that they did not believe it could happen. But, if you really think about it, not only is it possible now, but it has always been possible.
You may find it interesting to know that when the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed, the Confederate states in the South wouldn’t recognize It. Even though they had lost the war, the Confederate states were still reluctant to obey the federal government on the issue of the Negro’s right to freedom. They even passed the Black Codes, laws that effectively reduced Blacks to slaves in all but name. It eventually took the government of the United States to take military action to force the South recognize the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments (the so-called Reconstruction Amendments). In fact, in order for the state of Georgia to be allowed to enter the Union, it had to first ratify the Fifteenth Amendment, which it had refused to do. The Rebels continued to rebel.
I believe that were it not for the fact that most people on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line were just plain tired of war and bloodshed, there would probably have been another civil war, because the South was still very determined not to recognize Blacks as legitimate human beings entitled to the same rights as whites.
I don’t think most Blacks appreciate that the slave mindset is still held by many today, and just how close we are to a second civil war in this country right now. And I don’t think they realize that if that were to happen, the outcome of the second civil war would be far different than the first. During the Civil War, President Lincoln and many of those in the federal government were against slavery. Even after the death of Lincoln, there were still enough opponents to slavery in the government that when the South refused to honor the Constitution with regard to the rights of Blacks, the federal government took action and declared martial law in the South, appointing military officers as governors, mayors, and other government officials as part of Radical Reconstruction, until men who would honor the Constitution and obey the federal government could be found.
Today the situation is very different than it was back in those days. With the exception of the Kennedy Administration, most administrations, including the present (notwithstanding our Black president), have not been very sympathetic to Blacks. And because of the media’s coverage of Blacks, which always depicts them as being dissatisfied, disgruntled, pampered, lazy, proud, and combative, there is very little sympathy on the part of the international community for the plight of Blacks. I believe, in fact, that is the reason Barack Obama was chosen to be President and would be in office at the present time, when all these things are going on in the United States with respect to Blacks. If anyone should question if racism is a problem in the United States, they would quickly be reminded that President Obama is Black. The string pullers are light years ahead of the rest of us.
- What we are: Christians. ———————–>Would you like to know more?
A Christian is a repentant sinner who has accepted the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross and the shedding of His blood for the remission of sins. He is trusting in that blood for his salvation, and patiently awaits the return of the Lord Jesus and the Resurrection.
My identity as a Christian is important to me because, at one time, it was believed that Blacks could not be saved because they didn’t have souls. It was even forbidden in some areas to evangelize Blacks. But, thanks to the boundless mercy and breathless grace of God, some slaves heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the liberty that is in Christ resonated with them. They made the Lord Jesus their Savior, and, though their bodies were still bound, their souls were freed! Being a descendant of slaves—people who were given very few options—the fact that I have the freedom to worship the God of my choice is very dear to me, and I try to impress the importance of freedom of worship upon my children.
This holds even more importance for me because my wife is a Black African. There is an incredible difference between me and my wife’s family and friends with regard to issues concerning freedom and liberty. I have never, for example, heard my wife use the word freedom, or show, express, or profess gratitude for the freedoms she enjoys. I believe there are two reasons for this:
- My wife and her people have never known slavery as an historical institution, as Blacks in America do.
Sure, they know poverty; sure, they know deprivation; and sure, they know hunger. But, they have never known slavery of the American variety and the stigma attached to being a descendant of slaves. Having always been “free,” they have no frame of reference and, thus, do not and cannot know the inestimable value of freedom, and, therefore, have no real appreciation for the ability to do something as simple as oversleeping.
- My wife is a Roman Catholic.
You may ask what my wife being Roman Catholic has to do with why she does not appreciate freedom and is not grateful for the liberties she enjoys. To understand that, you must first understand that, as a religion, Roman Catholicism exercises absolute control over its votaries’ spiritual, psychological, and intellectual lives. Their doctrine and dogma demands that Catholics are not to think critically, exercise discernment, or use personal judgment on matters of faith. In Roman Catholicism, the priest has the authority of God. A good Catholic, therefore, is not one who faithfully attends mass or confession, gives to charity, or reads his bible. A good Catholic is one who does exactly what his priests tell him to do. Period. Though they are given a great deal of leeway these days, Catholics are never to question their priests or “Mother Church.”
A faithful Roman Catholic knows nothing of true freedom, especially freedom of conscience, because he has never had it. If you are not free to question the actions or commands of your superiors or the doctrine of the church, if you are not free to believe what you will, if you are not free to exercise your free will, and if you are not free to worship the God of your choosing in the way you feel led, then you are not truly free.
So, though my wife and I both have black skin, and are both descendants of Africans (she is an African), only I am the descendant of an African slave. I am very conscious of the fact that less than a hundred and fifty years ago, Blacks in America did not even enjoy the simple freedom to come and go as they pleased—a freedom that we so often take for granted today. I’m always grateful and thanking the Lord Jesus for this freedom.
My identity as a Christian is also important because most Blacks know little more of their history than the fact that our ancestors were brought to America from Africa as slaves. I, for example, know that around six hundred years ago, a Black African stepped off a boat that brought him from his land to the New World, and that African was made a slave. That African man was the first in a line that led to my father, the late Pastor Warren Keeton. I know little else about my ancestry. I don’t know what that African man looked like. I don’t know what country he came from. I don’t know what language he spoke. And I don’t know what he did for a living back in Africa. All I know is one thing: he was a slave.
It would be nice to know what facial and body characteristics I inherited from that man. It would be nice to know what talents and abilities I share with that man. But I will never know those things in this life, because my history was stolen. But it is nice to know that I have a spiritual history and that the Bible records it.
I was blown away when I saw the significance of Blacks in biblical history. I was amazed to discover that Moses’ wife was Black. I was astounded to find out that it was a Black man (Moses’ father-in-law) that helped Moses transform the Hebrews after the Exodus out of Egypt from a ragtag gaggle into an organized fighting machine that spread terror in the hearts of the Canaanites. I was flabbergasted when I read in the Scripture of Truth that the first non-Jewish person to bless and worship God was a Black Man. And I was speechless to discover that one of Jesus’ disciples was a Black man (I bet you didn’t know that there were black Jews during the time of Jesus?) I was encouraged when I discovered that contrary to secular history, Blacks were not ignorant savages before Catholic missionaries “evangelized” them. In fact, it was those missionaries who paganized them. I was happy to discover from the story of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts chapter 8 that unlike the European converts to Christianity, the Ethiopian eunuch already worshipped God, whom he probably called Jehovah.
There is a great deal Black Americans can learn of their true identity from the Bible, which is why Satan does not want Blacks reading the Bible at all; and, in fact, is on a mission to turn Blacks away from the Bible and The Lord Jesus.
- Where we are: The World.
The Word of God teaches that “the whole world lieth in wickedness,” and that we, as Christians, are merely strangers and pilgrims here. The Bible also says that we should neither love the world nor the things that are in this world, because anyone who loves the world is not of God. In short, we are aliens on this planet and are not to get too comfortable during our stay here even though it is the only existence we have ever known. We literally have one foot on earth and the other foot in Heaven.
Moreover, as Black Protestant Americans, my children and I have an even greater reason to remember where we are, as we live in Munich, Germany, an extremely Roman Catholic city in a very Roman Catholic country on an essentially Roman Catholic continent. This is especially significant, because, besides my children, there are very few—if, in fact, there are any other—Black American children here. There are many other Negro children in Munich—mostly Africans, but the majority are Roman Catholics and Muslims. And, of the very few that are not Roman Catholics or Muslims, most are either Eastern Orthodox (essentially Roman Catholic), identify as “evangelicals” (nominal Protestants who have been heavily influenced by Roman Catholicism), or are either Jehovah’s Witnesses, “renewed” charismatics, or belong to a religious cult of personality (such as the followers of deceased African religious leader Simon Kimbangu, known as Kimbangistas). So, if perchance there are other Black American children here, they are very likely either Roman Catholics or heavily influenced by Roman Catholicism.
By now, you can probably appreciate why I feel it is important for a Black American to know who he is, what he is, and where he is, so that he can keep everything in its proper perspective and know what he ought to be thanking the Lord Jesus for. This is important here, but no less true where you are.
It is true that blacks have always had and continue to have their share of injustice, inhumanity and cruel treatment; the historical record is too well known to deny this. But we should not let that fact blind us of the fact that we have also made incredible progress. If we spend too much time thinking about “how far we have yet to go,” we cannot truly appreciate how far we’ve come.
And, lest we forget, we did not do it alone: we had a lot of help from the Lord Jesus Christ, who, through the Apostle Paul admonishes us to:
“Be content with such things as ye have” (Hebrews 13:5).
“Having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (1 Timothy 6:8).
The message is clear:
- Be satisfied with just having a roof over your head; many don’t.
- Be happy you have a change of clothes and decent shoes on your feet; many don’t.
- Be grateful if you have beans and rice on the table; many don’t.
- Be beside yourself with glee when you can eat what you want from time to time and not just what you can afford; many can’t.
- Be grateful you can come and go when you please and where you want. (You’d be surprised how many can’t.)
- Appreciate the blessing of being able to sleep in every now and then; many can’t.
If you think about it, then, these are truly blessings!
Thank you for putting up with my ravings today.
Be encouraged and look up, for your redemption draweth nigh.