In the heart of the “slave” castle at Elmina, Ghana, a building became a church, a place of worship. It might be hard to conceive that Christians, initially the Portuguese and later the Dutch, were worshiping God while enslaving our ancestors. They were worshiping God while treating our ancestors with cruel hate. Even the governor of the castle, who professed a hatred for the Africans, would require the “pleasure” of an African woman in his upstairs bedroom chamber. That is the contradictory nature of the church that stood at the center of Elmina Castle.
The church finds itself in stark contrast with the tone and tenets of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Often what we do in Jesus’ name looks nothing like Jesus. There have been many crusades, movements, and causes operated under the auspices of the Church that did not resemble the teachings of Jesus.
The Civil Rights Movement is a prime example. Revs. Fred Shuttlesworth, King and others often confronted hate groups whose ideology was rooted in White Nationalism. That system of thought believes, among many things, that the United States is a Christian Nation and was founded upon Christian principles.
Again, we see the contradictory nature of that poor thinking in the enslavement of our ancestors who were brought to the United Sates not as equals, but as enslaved people. Without wages, our ancestors built this nation. Without the promised 40 acres and a mule, we have suffered grievously to claim the rights guaranteed to every citizen enshrined in the Constitution.
We must be careful in what we do in Jesus’ name. The very people who thought they were God’s best representatives were called hypocrites by Jesus. As Jesus challenged them; we, too, are being challenged. Jesus challenges us to remove the plank that is in our eye before being concerned about the speck that is in the eye of a brother or sister. If we are the Church of Christ, let us be the Church of Christ and do everything in Jesus’ name. Amen.