Monday, July 21, 2014

Our Christian Legacy For Sale!

Strivers Row: A Priceless Treasure of our Past
I just returned from a few days in New York City.  It was my first visit.  I had a wonderful time seeing  the common tourists sights:The Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Times Square, 9/11 Ground Zero, etc.  But at the top of my list was a trip to Harlem, the epicenter of black religion, art, culture, and history.  I was both thrilled and disheartened as our charismatic tour guide told us what the tour books didn't.  Very few black visitors  take the Harlem tour. The whites who do are generally from Europe and elsewhere. Our group of 20 was entirely black and he was so overwhelmed that he took a picture of US!  Younger blacks, he said don't appear to have an appreciation for the contributions of their forefathers.  They either don't know their rich history or they don't care!

Secondly, he described what has become a normal urban phenomena.  Historical districts, rich with the sights and sounds of an ethnic group's past are rapidly being renovated to appeal to the rich and affluent to the tune of millions of dollars.  The result is that previous homeowners not being able to afford the expensive renovations are forced to move or willingly sell their inheritance (that which their parents worked so hard to get) for a small percentage of its value. They are in fact selling their legacy!

Such is the case of  Strivers Row  pictured above.  It is a couple of blocks of row houses, exquisitely designed at West 138th and 139th Streets (between Adam Clayton Power, Jr. Boulevard and Frederick Douglass Boulevard ) in the St. Nicholas Historic District.  These houses sell for several million dollars a piece.  They are considered architectural works of art and are highly prized.  Just not by us!! Pretty soon the only hint of its black origins will be the famous names on the street signs that defines its boundaries!

Lest you think I'm on a racial diatribe, let me explain why this topic came to mind. On the airplane coming into New York, I sat next to a young Indian Jehovah Witness returning from a huge conference in Indianapolis.  In our conversation, he explained that he was a minister who received no salary and was totally supported by the Witnesses. He has traveled all over the U.S. and abroad not knowing where he will stay or eat but is welcomed, fed, and housed everywhere he goes by other Witnesses who practice the law of love.
This ironically he describes as carrying out the legacy of Jesus in Matthew 10: 5-15 and 22:34-40. To love others as yourself and to receive brethren with hospitality and kindness.

 He also went on to tell me that JWs do not tithe or pass offering baskets in their service. They don't run building campaigns, have fund raisers and such because faithful Witnesses understand their obligations and wish to do whatever is necessary to carry on the work and preserve its legacy.  One building they owned in New York recently sold for 8 million dollars.  The money will get reinvested into the ministry.   

It brings to mind something I heard: "If Christians would only do for the Truth what False Religions do for a lie" we would be oh so much further along.  I have to ask the question then.  Are we as Christians becoming Sell Outs like the descendants of the Strivers Row generation?   At  what price are we selling our spiritual inheritance?  This wonderful legacy of faith,  morality, gratitude, perseverance, patience and love.

What is it then if we are willing to buy the latest electronic game for our children to play with for hours but won't get up and bring them to church for praise and worship!  Why would we rather sacrifice all to get them into the best schools but think nothing of providing them biblical instruction. What are we teaching them about their spiritual heritage and the faith of their godly fore parents?  Have you ever talked to them about their hardships and their victories in Christ.

 I see others coming to America hidden in boats, riding on train tops, sneaking across our borders even sending their babies simply to get what we already have but don't appreciate!  Don't let the same be said of us as Christians.  For the sake of Christ let's take back our heritage and tell the world that our Legacy is not for sale!