A Personal Prayer of Repentance

Class with Dr. James Cone today awakened something in me that had been dormant for a couple years now.

This is my confession, that in my righteous desire to reject the anti-Christianity of conservative white evangelicalism (and even some “liberalism” that has no sense of urgency for the liberation of Oppressed Peoples), I became arrogant and self-righteous in my demeanor towards my God who instilled in me the only faith that could rescue me from the horrors of heroin and crack addiction.

This faith was the very simple faith that a lowly Nazarene named Jesus loved me enough, and deemed me worthy enough, to sacrifice his life so that I may have life to the full.

Yes, in my justified effort to rid myself of a dead religious tradition, I turned my back on the One who saved me quite literally from spiritual, emotional, psychological, and even physical hell on earth.

It was a deep abiding faith in the power of Jesus’ sacrifice for me, which is rooted in divine love for me, that empowered me to love myself enough to believe in myself enough to surrender my understanding and my will to my God who was the only One who could get me through hell 100x’s stronger than I was before.

It was faith in Jesus’ love for me that kept me from giving up on life as I sat in a sunless jail cell for 18-hours a day during the first three weeks of my five-month stay at the Cook County Jail.

CCDOC ID - Redacted CopyIt was a faith that was given to me, not by any merit of my own, that emboldened me to hope for a better future for myself and for the people I encountered.

It was faith in the cross and the Resurrection of Jesus that gave me a peace that surpasses all understanding, because it made no rational sense for me to have been given the hope that despite being a three-time convicted felon, despite burning every bridge with everyone who had loved me—somehow—my God would make a way out of no way—and somehow—not only would I survive but I would thrive beyond anything I could ever ask or imagine.

I’m here to testify that, even though I can’t explain theologically or rationally how it happened, my God delivered me from hell.

Somewhere down the road, I became unfaithful.

As I achieved many of my dreams such as earning a bachelor’s degree and going to graduate school, I became ensnared and enamored by some of the glitter of a privileged rejection of faith.

Well, it caught up to me, and the conviction hit me hard today that I mustn’t turn my back on the One who’s never let me down.

I think it’s a combination of a few months of really intense activism (to say the least) and a couple of years of wrestling with questions about God, along with the simple truth (which James Cone spoke in class) about a simple faith in the Jesus who identifies with the oppressed, which have brought me to this prayer of repentance.

To be clear, I STILL reject the white Jesus of white western Christianity;

I still have no desire to fully embrace as “Truth,” the Christian creeds which were created by flawed human beings who were influenced by the Roman Emperor Constantine;

I still believe that no one religion is the “chosen” religion of God;

I still believe that divinity is manifested in myriad ways to different people, including through non-theistic, non-“religious” experiences;

I still believe that diversity of religions is actually part of a divine order.

However, as for my personal experience, all I know now is that I need Jesus.

Thanks be to God that divine love, forgiveness, and grace are everlasting.

Amen.

http://www.facebook.com/HolyWeekOfResistance

Related Links:

The Evangelical Ethic and The Spirit of Colorblind Racism

Addicts Need Treatment Not Jail

Towards a Black-Womanist Theology of Mass Incarceration

#FergusonOctober: a glimpse of a movement for real justice

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4 thoughts on “A Personal Prayer of Repentance

  1. Pingback: Denying Denial (Week 2 #ReclaimHolyWeek #BlackLivesMatter) | Restoring Pangea

  2. madeleinealexei

    I remember sitting in the local hospital dialysis unit a few weekends ago, where I’m currently receiving treatment for renal failure (and dialysis is as much of a chain as anything St Paul or any of the saints and martyrs experienced). I finished up reading Tom Wright’s “Paul for Everyone: 2 Corinthians,” and realized that the reason 2 Corinthians is my favorite book of the New Testament is that it asks the same question I first started asking myself in the aftermath of my first kidney transplant almost 25 years ago:

    “If you knew that someone had died in your place, taking upon themselves the death that was supposed to be yours, how would it change your life?”

    Asking that question afresh changed my life yet again, from the anger and pure Hell of dialysis (not to mention my activism for a better world) to remembering why I am a Christian, why I do everything I do, and that I can do all this difficult stuff with a smile on my face and a smile in the depths of my heart. The sacrifice of the one who counted our life as equally or more worth saving than their own – no matter how Hellish we think our lives to be – is the kind of love that is at the center of the universe. Greater love has no one than this. And there is no greater motivation for being part of the work of redemption.

    Liked by 1 person

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