Tracing a Line From Woke

The most impossible-seeming thing we do on planet earth is to come face to face with our sin problem, requiring the grace of the Holy Spirit. Coming to grips with the Truth of our fallenness since Creation’s story means facing the BIGGEST LIES ever told – that a Holy God doesn’t exist, that we are our own gods, that we don’t need a Savior…

I John 3:11-15 says, “For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.”

The conviction of the Holy Spirit is what exposes what’s rotten in my heart. The inability to repent simply resides in humans on planet earth. More specifically, I am unable to live a life of repentance apart from Christ. I confess my need of a Savior whenever I measure my perverted motives against God’s declarations about my inborn nature, my pride, my fear of man, my lack of goodness, my intent to destroy things. These inevitably line up.

Yes, injustice greatly bothers me. Especially my own contribution to it. And, we each contribute. We all contribute to the shadows of consuming hatred and divisions between peoples. Racial injustice threads back to Creation where you find that hate and murder are born into the heart of brothers. Maybe we have forgotten how Cain treacherously killed his brother Abel, “brother” being the operative word.

Just trace it. Our inborn slavery to sin is no less monumental that the notorious outworking of sin that brought slaves to America or that caused the Holocaust. Being “woke” to injustice, particularly racism, could be a constructive thing if it led us to the foot of the Cross in repentance. It would then lead us to a genuine love for Jesus Christ and for others.

In an article by Elijah C. Watson (okayplayer.com), I discovered that author William Melvin Kelley of Harlem coined the term “woke” in a 1962 New York Times essay entitled, “If You’re Woke You Dig It.” I will read Kelley’s essay later, but I understand from Elijah that, almost 50 years later, this term “woke” has bubbled into a cultural trend word. Along with it comes the sadness that restoration looks unreachable.

I also learned that musician Georgia Anne Muldrow introduced “woke” to Erykah Badu who then used the term in her recording, “Master Teacher.” Maybe you’ve heard it (I haven’t). Recent, resultant adoption of the term by the masses, meant to capture empathy for the black experience (the kidnapping of black ancestors and their movement into a hostile home), still hasn’t led to a loving dialogue among brothers in the human race. Yet, we hope…

What happened in the Garden, when America was far from existing, was the mishandling of things meant for good. This still happens. The “woke” dialogue that we pray for will not happen until we are transformed by a perfect Savior into people who desire to love their brothers. We have prevented ourselves from tracing the pattern back to original sin. The repentance that leads us to the Cross, and thereby the true meaning of God’s love, is the only hope we have for any kind of racial restoration or reconciliation. Ever.

We are stuck in agony because we haven’t traced “woke” back to the Garden of Eden – what happens when enmity between brothers is replicated over and over and over. Seeing the darkness of our own hearts and calling out to the God who made provision for us through Jesus Christ is our only real hope to bridge any kind of gap between hostile hearts. The American homeland is not just an inextinguishable, wearying battleground for black people. It is hostile for all people until forgiveness is found in a Savior.

We will know when we have passed from death to life. Because some of us have. We will come face to face with a Savior. We will love as Christ loved. We will have His heart. We will be more than woke.