My Powerful Case for the Black Jesus

I have been asked for a written copy of the reflection/sermon that I preached, while Giavonna White performed liturgical dance, at Columbia City Church of Hope on 9/10/17.  The following draws a lot from God of the Oppressed by James Cone as well as my own experiences.  To listen along, click here.  The month of September is themed ‘Hard Questions for God’ and on this Sunday I reflected on the following question:

Is it possible that we have created God in our image, not the other way around, and if so, what implications does it have?

So God created mankind in their own image, in the image of God they created them; male and female he created them.  God blessed them and said to them “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.  Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground. – Genesis 1:28-29

As a black woman from Southeast Louisiana, I can say with full confidence- YES- God has been created by a specific group of people into their own image.

I can only speak from my experience.  Now, my experience is one that has been invalidated and ignored for centuries, BUT today is a day to lift up my experience with the intention of educating all of those who have never been blessed to be exposed to it and to honor everyone with the same or painfully similar experience.

Truth cannot be separated from the people’s struggle and the hopes and dreams that arise from that struggle.  As black theologians, who have been grasped by the truth, we are accountable to black people. – James Cone


(Gigi and I practicing to collaborate for the first time)

James Cone emphasizes, in his book God of the Oppressed) that all the experiences of black life (upbringing, racial discrimination, brutality, exclusion, internalized inferiority, trauma, etc….) are a part of us and all form a lens through which black people see the world that is different than people who are not black.

Genesis 1:26

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;

Anywhere that has its own distinguished values/experience/culture has a different version of God.  I sometimes wonder at how different aspects of God are emphasized by different groups of people, but sometimes I question the lack of consistency from group to group.

One’s social and historical context decides not only the questions we address to God but also the mode or form of the answers given.   Another way to say the same thing is : Human speech about divine revelation is conditioned by cultural and historical relativity.Because of this reality, religion, spirituality, tradition, theology, what we believe is important to God, how we view God can be heavily informed by Whiteness- Here is the problem with that….

Unfortunately not only white seminary professors but some blacks as well have convinced themselves that only the white experience provides the appropriate context for questions and answers concerning things divine.  They do not recognize the narrowness of their experience and the particularity of their theological expressions.  They like to think of themselves as universal people.  That is why most seminaries emphasize the need for appropriate tools in doing theology, thought of white people.  They fail to recognize that other people also have thought about God and have something significant to say about Jesus’ presence in the world.


(Caption: This past year, I’ve challenged the church in my own way alone, but it was an incredible honor to have my sister and friend with me this time)

“When does the Church cease to be the Church of Christ?”

HERESY: Heresy, any activity or teaching that contradicts the liberating truth of Jesus Christ.  The refusal to speak the truth or to live in the truth in the light of the One who is the Truth.

Any interpretation of the gospel in any historical period failing to see Jesus as the Liberator of the oppressed is heresy.  Any view of the gospel failing to understand the church as that community whose work and consciousness are defined by the community of the oppressed is NOT Christian and is thus heretical. So… I pose the question

Can the Church of Jesus Christ be politically, socially, and economically identified with structure of oppression and also be a servant of Christ?” JAMES CONE THINKS THE ANSWER IS NO, AND I AGREE.

What has the gospel to do with the oppressed of the land and their struggle for liberation?  Any theologian [theology] who fails to place that question at the center of his or her work has ignored the essence of the gospel.”

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 

The same way that the perception of God can be informed or determined by whiteness, it can also be influenced by blackness (to a small degree).  The black sermon arises out of the totality of the people’s existence – their pain and joy, trouble and ecstasy. (REPEAT)  We are who we are and it is manifested and evident in our faith experience.

Truth is also disclosed in the way passion changes the environment when a song is sung.  Truth is found in shout, hum, and moan as these expressions move the people closer to the source of their being.

Genesis 1:26

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;

I do not believe that any one person can articulate an experience this perplexed alone, that burden is too heavy.  Because of this, I am sure that the black experience currently or historically may not ever be fully and universally known, which is an injustice in itself.  What I can do is try to make sure it’s represented and with my words, actions, and through my life validated.

The long light brown or blonde haired and blue eyed Jesus that plagues the western hemisphere with its inaccuracy and deception represents an attempt at changing history to favor white men, conditioning black people to kneel or bow to white male energy, and for young black children this serves as a disconnect between them and a God who does not look like them, reinforcing that they are inferior.  Jesus was a man of color and this needs to be addressed.

In my Christian walk, mercy, forgiveness, grace, honor, submission, blessing, repentance, peace, purity, and love were not only concepts repetitively explored, but emphasized to the degree of idolization sprinkled with bits and pieces of hypergrace (the idea that you are saved by grace no matter what as long as you believe in Jesus) and prosperity gospel never once challenging the church to stop perpetuating the Euro-centric messiah- reinforcing that black people as well as others are not made in the image of God.

Genesis 1:26

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 

Our skin is not evidence that we are cursed, but blessed.

Submerged in the black infinity from which everything came.

Resilient, self-determined

Embodied divinity

Kings and Queens unrecognizable

Tattered clothes and weary souls

You cannot imagine the journey, or the pain that the soles of these black feet have endured.

Inherited nothing but a legacy of whips and chains

Magic circulating through veins

And as the ashy rain is evident that the world is aflame,

It is also evident that the black infinity and divinity are the same.


The point of this sermon isn’t to prove that Jesus is black, although He would have been a melinated man in reality.  This was an attempt to tear down the thought patterns and beliefs that we have that are framed by racism, sexism, and capitalism.  Everything that we know has been shaped by a very privileged and white perspective and held as the standard for everyone.  Although there were many metaphors and ironies in this sermon, I would encourage us to not forget this point- the inaccurate myth or farce that Jesus is white has negative implications for all people who are not white, and even if it didn’t, one perspective CANNOT reflect the diversity of God.

Genesis 1:26

Then God said, ‘Let Us make mankind in Our image, according to Our likeness;

So God created mankind in God’s own image, in the image of God he/she/ they were created.


(Caption: Prophetic symbolization of a revolution within the church as well as reclaiming Christ as well as truth).

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