Over the years I’ve met a lot black people who’ve questioned my reasoning for being Christian. They think Christianity is the “whiteman” religion. The origin of Christianity is a little more complicated than that! You have to know the past to understand the present so let’s start with the past.
Birth of Christ
Christianity is founded on the ministry of Jesus Christ. Jesus the Nazarene, Emmanuel God among us, born of a virgin, Mary and fathered by the Holy Spirit. Christanity begin and spread throughout the Roman Empire during the reign of Pointious Pilate. The message of Christ is a message of hope and redemption. Followers believe he is the promised Messiah prophesied by the old testament prophet Isiah. Shortly after the birth of Christ his mother Mary and natural father Joseph fled to Egypt for fear of Jesus’ life and then to Nazareth (Matthew 2:14).
Birth of Jesus’s Minstry
Matthew introduced John the Baptist whose mother is Elizabeth, Elizabeth was the older cousin of Mary. Both Mary and Elizabeth were pregnant at the same time John is a few months older than Jesus. John had followers and his ministry was the precursor to the ministry of Jesus. John lived off the land eating wild locust and honey and preached of repentance. Jesus’ ministry began when he was baptised in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. Jesus’ ministry was approximately three years during the three year time frame he was called, a teacher and Rabbi and had 12 disciples Matthew being one.
People were unimpressed with Jesus; he wasn’t flashy or royalty. He was humble, with great power able to heal the sick, raise the dead and had a large following. The Pharisees rejected Jesus’ teachings. Jesus was the son of a carpenter seen as an ordinary man who had the power to heal people, offer forgiveness of sins and cast out demons. He was seen as a rebel and a troublemaker. He spoke about matters concerning the hearts of his followers; he never knew earthly riches yet he spoke about riches in heaven. He was tempted by the evil one and later crucified on the cross where he died and was placed in a tomb. On the third day he rose and revealed himself to many people including his followers.
The Birth of Christanity
Jesus’ disciples minus Judas who betrayed him for thirty shekels of silver and later killed himself out of guilt and shame went out into the world to share the teachings of Jesus Christ. It wasn’t easy, this was a new religion and the teachings were different from that of its time. Initially Chrisanity was seen as a sect of Judaism and the Roman emperor at the time Caesar Augustus was ok with Christianity as long as it did not spread and stayed small and manageable. But Christanity took off new converts who were feeding the poor, sharing Jesus’s teachings and that became a threat to the Roman Empire. The disciples and new converts were being slaughtered for their beliefs. Paul of Tarsus, you know the one who had the conversion on Damascus road, the one whose name changed from Saul to Paul. Paul was one of Caesar’s loyal servants who killed Chritians and after his conversion and repentance he became an apostle of Jesus Christ and traveled spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, a gospel of hope and salvation to both Jew and Gentile.
Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire which included the continent of Africa. Christanity existed on the continent of Africa centuries before the Transalantic slave trade. Not all Africans were Christan but not all Africans were introduced to Chrsitanity from slave owners. We can’t assume African slaves were docile; it’s quite offensive. I believe those who didn’t believe or chose to practice didn’t. Being physically present in church doesn’t mean your heart is. I’ve met people who grew up in Church, forced to go and when they got older and or moved out on their own they have no relationship with the church some of them are not believers in Christ and or tend to lean more towards eastern religions.
Birth of White Jesus
In many parts of the world primarily in Europe Jesus was depicted as a man of color. There’s no photograph or official portrait of the Messiah so over the years people painted him based on their image and likeness. It’s about power and control. The white man appears more powerful if the image of Christ is that of a white man. Overtime Jesus was white washed and his hair was changed to blonde and eyes blue. In the 1940’s Warner Sallman painted “The head of Christ ” that became the American Mascot for Jesus Christ. This image of Jesus’ head was hung in every bible believing household both black and white and everything in between. People have used Christanity and other religious groups, cults, etc to control and divide groups of people and nations. Christanity was forced onto Native Americans and unbelieving Africans. It’s not Christanity that’s the problem, it’s the people who use it to exploit others. In the Middle Ages the Catholic Church sold indulgences which were certificates to ultimately increase your chance of going to heaven.
Indulgences had nothing to do with tithing and parishioners were also allowed to buy indulgences for family members. Again people have exploited Christanity for personal and political gain and unfortunately that trend has continued to the present day.
Christanity is not the white man’s religion, it’s not about race at all. It’s actually pretty exciting when you sit and study the word. You have to disconnect yourself from all the distractions around you and bad experiences within the church community. Awkward experiences aside, my Pastor or whoever I fellowship with isn’t my savior and should not influence my relationship with the Messiah. I understand that people are flawed and that’s between them and the father. Whatever you choose to believe, believe it independently from what’s going on around you. This is true for anything that you chose to do in life.