This is an article from the March-April 2000 issue: The African American & Missions

Are you a Keeper or a Killer?

Are you a Keeper or a Killer?

A Challenge to live as did the One who laid down His life for us.

The Romans were known to tie a murderer to the corpse of their victims. We in the African-American community must recognize that many of the problems we face are from the fact that we have yet to recognize our role in keeping our brother. There is no middle ground. We are either keeping our brother or killing him. We remain tied to this corpse of a dying world. We cannot say we are not guilty--our sin condemns us all.

But Jesus has given us the remedy. He has loosed us from this bondage and taken away our guilt. But we must first admit guilt. Are you a killer or a keeper? Being tied to this corpse is killing us. We are sentenced to death (1 Cor. 1:9), but Christ has redeemed us from capital punishment. How can we tell the difference?

Are our churches full of killers, or keepers?

Keepers meet their brother's need (James 2:1-20). Killers feed their own greed (James 4:2). Our pleasures create our problems.

We don't have to look far to see the problems of excess in the African- American community. We have a disproportionate amount of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, kidney failure and intestinal ailments. We say we love our brother, but we are feeding our own appetites.

In a world gone mad with technology and plenty for the few, we no longer look to the needs of our brother--and we have no sense of shame as he starves to death or dies of thirst. Oh, we all get shook up over it. But getting shook up is not enough. What good is it if it does not cause us to take action? Faith without works is dead. For many of us, the sad but true reason we desire Christ's return is to help us get out of debt--i.e., I won't have to pay my debt if Jesus comes back soon.

Keepers don't focus on their own misery. Rather, they use their miserable state to bless others (Isaiah 53:1-12).

Killers excuse themselves from meeting others' need because their own needs have not been met (John 5:7).

In a world gone mad with entitlements, human rights, welfare rights, alternative sexual lifestyles, we must be very careful not to become one more sounding brass or tinkling cymbal. God has given mankind the badge of suffering and misery for a purpose.

One purpose is that none should glory in the flesh. Another is that we find ourselves totally dependent upon Him. A third is that God could take this despised thing called the African and do great things. God did great things through Simon of Cyrene, who, if he had showed up late (CP time), would have not been there to carry the cross of Christ. Satan might have had the victory because Jesus would not have been crucified but instead, died of dehydration and exhaustion on the streets of Jerusalem. God chooses the despised things. Keepers, those that are their brother's keeper, know this.

Keepers dream of unity (Galatians 6:4). Killers relish their own identity (1 Cor. 10:7-12). In a world gone mad with ethnic rivalry and tribal wars, we must be very cautious of embracing everything that is Afrocentric as a godsend. At a minimum, we will isolate ourselves from white brothers. We cannot form COMINAD on the basis of Afrocentricity. God is bigger than this.

The resources of the world belong to the body of Christ. As we strengthen one part of the body, we must not let it become so strong as to become uncontrolled--a cancerous, uncontrolled self-growth and consumed with its self-importance.

God is doing a new thing with COMINAD, but it must be within the bonds of unity.

Keepers know this is not their home. Keepers don't seek to make Africa or any other place a source of pride. Keepers recognize their only home is heaven.

Keepers sow seeds (1 Cor. 9:12). Killers stow seeds (James 5:1-3).

We are malnourished in this nation. We have a rising AIDS rate which parallels that of any African nation (some communities in New York and Philadelphia reporting 15-25 percent). Our AIDS rates in neonatal units and orphanages are ballooning. Our illiteracy rates and drop-out rates in school are comparable to those of many poorer nations around the world. In Philadelphia, nearly 25 percent in many black communities are functionally illiterate.

We have an infant mortality rate in most cities which is as bad as that of many third world countries (15/1000). Our marriages are failing at phenomenal rates, like the family breakups in any poor country of the world. Our family traditions are folding and we are losing our history. We are not sowing seeds to help other nations. We are selfish in our giving and going, and no one, not even God, will intervene to give the farmer who does not sow a good crop.

If we want to correct these problems in our own homes and communities, we must be a part of correcting them elsewhere in the world.

Keepers dream and create for the kingdom while they sleep (Gal. 1:12).

Killers just sleep and dream of the world. God sends a strong delusion to them.

The Lord promised us that we would do great things. We have gone to sleep at the wheel and are off course.

Keepers look at the world's chaos and imagine they can do great things. Killers look at the madness and mayhem and say, "Maybe they deserve to go to hell anyway; let me get some more sleep." Keepers look at the dead man Lazarus, wrapped in grave clothes; and say, "Jesus can raise him from the dead." Killers blame God and say, "If you had been here my brother would still be alive."

Keepers look for solutions. They are ready for paradigm shifts--new wine and new wineskins (Luke 5:36-38). The unjust servant was wise in the ways of the world (Luke 16:8). We can accept the word of outsiders. We can learn from everyone.

Killers focus on problems. They keep doing things the old way, even when it doesn't work.

Matthew 15:9 shows we must break away from traditions. COMINAD must build a new vision of being our brother's keeper. We must awaken the traditional black church from its passive killing role and make it an active keeper.

COMINAD must strengthen the ties between the white and the black church in order to seek the unity in the bond of peace. Keepers use the wisdom of the world to make a difference.

Dr. Michael Johnson is a physician from Philadelphia who has served with World Gospel Mission in Kenya since 1989. This message was initially delivered at the inauguratory meeting of COMINAD March 17,1999.

Keepers look at the dead man Lazarus, wrapped in grave clothes and say, "Jesus can raise him from the dead."

Keepers look at the dead man Lazarus, wrapped in grave clothes and say, "Jesus can raise him from the dead."
Killers look at the madness and mayhem and say, "Maybe they deserve to go to hell anyway."


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