Book of the Month: Woke Church

I am very excited about the book of this month. I honestly don't know where to begin. So let me start by saying it is incredibly befitting for Black History Month. My hope for racial issues is that we do more than talk about it. What the book of this month does is give practical steps for the church to get involved. I should give a little bit of context for better understanding. In contemporary times, there has been a mass exodus of black folks from the church. Specifically, a lot of young black Americans are quietly leaving the evangelical churches because of its conspicuous silence on social justice. Somehow, Christians have forgotten or willfully ignored the salient fact that more than many other trivial things, Christ was for justice. Anyway, a lot of people have become disillusioned  with the church, especially when despite the unfair killings of black boys, and the generally brutality many black people endured in the hands of police in America, their white pastors were quiet. But there were prayers for Paris, Brussels, Law enforcement...prayers all around until "Black Lives Matter" is mentioned, and suddenly, everyone becomes uncomfortable. I too, wrestled with that type of Christianity; the one that willingly celebrates racists and their racist policy preferences; the one that embraces hostility towards black and brown folks.

This book was not afraid to tackle uncomfortable racial topics. If the church in America should have rejected the first whispers of slavery and didn't; if the church should have stopped segregation, but didn't; if  it should have been vehemently against police brutality and racial profiling, and still isn't, how do we move from there? Dr. Eric Mason, the author of Woke Church, argues the Church and Christians generally have been asleep and need to be woke. Defining woke as being "able to understand how cultural, socioeconomic, philosophical, and historical realities inform our responsibility as believers in Jesus Christ",  Mason challenges the Church to take action and stand together against all forms of injustice and indignity in our world.

Not only is this book important, it is extremely biblical, and pursues reconciliation, justice, love, and the gospel. But it doesn't do so blindly. It doesn't just say, "Love wins" or "Just Love". Nah.. It shows love in pure unadulterated action. Love, undiluted as Jesus would. Love that disciplines, encourages, and is practical. So if you are white and perhaps grew up in a white church; or if you are black and you are dealing with serious anger against your white brothers and sisters in the Lord because of their deafening silence; whatever side of the ideological line and spectrum you are; or if you are just oblivious on racial matters, this book is for you. This book has something for everybody. I am NOT kidding you. I have read a lot of books on race, love, Christianity, and all of the above, and I tell you, this book is excellent.

We need an urgent call and Dr. Mason delivers. This has always been such an important topic to me. I really, truly believe that God has created a fire in me for equality, for justice, and for what's right. And yes, though I am undoubtedly and unapologetically a Christian, I have also criticized the Church time and time again. I probably won't stop. I really dislike the monopoly of Christianity by white folks in America. But this book convicted me in a way I love: to approach things from a place of love; not enablement, not excuses, not anger, not indulging, but love, like Jesus would. This means first and foremost, I must see other Christians not as the enemy, but as siblings in Christ.  After all, the bible did say,

"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone" (Romans 12:18).

So many, many parts of this book stood out. But I will mention some of them, so you can BUY it and read the rest. Please, please, buy this book. So we can support the author but also so you can reference it every time. Okay, so I loved that he mentioned the tendency of Christians to want to gloss over injustices for the sake of unity. We are NOT here for that. Everyone must attempt to understand the history of black people in America. The church must be willing to acknowledge the difficult truth about the history of white and black relations in this country. In Matthew, we see Jesus rebuke the Pharisees for their attention to tithes and their neglect of more important issues like Justice and mercy. Justice and mercy.

To understand this history is to understand the vantage point of several contemporary racial issues. As a Christian when you see the trauma of others, their pain must become our pain. To understand this history is to acknowledge, as Dr. Mason puts it, that many leaders of our faith were slave owners. All over this book, we also see how the Church should be the beacon for answers. Unfortunately, as Dr. Mason explains, justice is now seen as a 'liberal' word. Yet, the bible is filled with justice. Indeed God is a God of Justice.

And justice has to be done not just talked (to death) about. Jesus got involved in real, practical day to day problems of people, and this book urges the church to do the same. If systemic changes are overwhelming, then start from immediate needs in your community. Do something. The presence of the church must be felt and not in an oppressive way, but in a way that changes minds and hearts.

Read this book. I promise you, you will not regret it at all. There is way too much to unpack in the book and it makes for a great book club read. I want to talk about it, discuss it, practice what it preaches, and hear more about what non-black christians think of such a daring, yet excellent piece of literature. Of course, if you do read the book, let me know what you think!



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