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We Cannot Serve God and Race

by Anna Hartge

In Matthew 6.24-34, Jesus and His disciples are atop a mountain surrounded by a multitude from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and beyond the Jordan. Jesus has uttered the now well- known Beatitudes, redefined the meaning of adultery and that of love, taught those gathered how to pray, and spoken against the practice of piety that seeks public attention. It is Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. In the above-mentioned verses, Jesus informs his hearers that there is a choice to be made. He tells the crowd, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold on to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

I believe that the same holds true for race, as it is the master of many in American society and throughout the world. Race tells us where to live and to work, what to eat (Black people eat watermelon and fried chicken.) and to drink, who to love and to hate, how to talk (because you can sound white or black) and to behave, what to wear and how we appear to others. Race is a god that requires the daily sacrifice of self, will, and personal awareness.

And if we love race, then we hate God. Yes, we hate God for making socially defined white, black, brown, red, or yellow people. We hate God for giving one “good hair” and the other “nappy hair,” for differences in complexion, eye color and shape, unequal physiques and proportions. We hate God for giving one social power and the other social powerlessness. This is the belief system of race. We can’t serve race without this confession. We seek first to be white; believing that once acquired all other things will be added to us (6.32). Neither serves the purpose of the other. If we hold on to our belief in race, we will despise God. We cannot serve God and race. Amen.

Rev. Starlette McNeill

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