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THE CHURCH AND CIVIL RIGHTS
By Rev. Thomas Searcy Jr.
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2009 Rev. Thomas Searcy Jr.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneJesus's Position on Civil Rights
Civil rights-the words have a rich and deep meaning, the word civil meaning to be civilized, polite, not military or religious, the word right: something to which a person is entitled. Some churches have intentionally not taught the Kingdom's message on civil rights. Civil rights is just another way of saying, in the Christian language, fruit of the spirit operating in one's life. I know that tying the term civil rights to the church may be very strange. Civil rights are laws that protect your rights. The Kingdom of God can also protect your rights or work against you. The law-abiding citizens in the kingdom of heaven have much fruit. Fruit operating in a person's life is evidence of his or her salvation, also signs and wonders should follow the believer. The message of the power of the cross, what we received when Jesus died for us, should be the only message.
Love, a very important ingredient in a civilized society, is also a fruit of the spirit. Some church leaders are obsessed with numbers, prestige, and the size of the tithes and offerings. They have made the pure, basic lesson of the power of the cross the first weapon in their arsenal to trap thepeople. They have taken their eyes off the needs of the people and the knowledge that Jesus came to free us all. Their first goal is to become powerful and distinguished, but Jesus has given a clear message: we should help oppressed people. Some members of the body have made it easy for false leaders. Christians should be able to tell when they hear God or when they hear a spirit that is not of God. In the body of Christ, this understanding is called discernment. Some members have allowed the church to become a social club not rooted in God's commandments. It is written that walking in God's commandments is love. Pretty smiles and kind words are very nice, but not when your obsession is greed and power-in fact, ultra bright smiles and good manners make great weapons in taking people captive.
While some church leaders have become obsessed with greed and power, they have forgotten-or perhaps never cared-that men and women also children were beaten, murdered, raped, and cheated in America. Civil rights laws were created to protect the rights of the people left in the streets lifeless and to attempt to make them whole, but these laws have been poorly enforced and in many cases not enforced at all. Leaders blinded by greed have left behind the family that was physically abused, and the family left behind has not been made whole spiritually. But Jesus has not passed them by; men and women walking in the commandments of God have saved many families. The apostle Paul taught that love is walking in God's commandments. I believe Jesus walked in the commandments of God. He whipped some people once for using the temple of God as a store, and he also saved a lot of people. Harriet Tubman, I believe, walked in the commandments of God. If treating people "nicely" involves leaving people in abusive situations, then we must see love as more than smiles and nice words. Faith without action is dead; taking the right action is the key.
Jesus wanted us to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. Our Lord gave us a short story about leaving people behind. The story went something like this: A man went to Jerusalem. This man was robbed on the way to Jerusalem, beaten, and left for dead. A priest traveling the same way by chance saw the man on the ground motionless and did not help. A Hebrew from the tribe of Levite walked by, also saw the man, and did not help. A priest and a man of the tribe of Levi would not help; Hebrews had no dealings with the Samaritans. Now, a Samaritan walked by and saw the man, and he did help. Jesus has commissioned us to help people, not just Christians. (Read Luke 10:37.) The Christian role in creating civil behavior is a commission to the church. The church must work together to stop systematic racism and lawlessness.
Chapter TwoCreating Civil Behavior
How can you have a civilized society where the law is not enforced? It is the responsibility of the body of Christ to use our weapons to bring down strongholds in the court system that block equal opportunity laws. The weapons God gave the church are not earthly but well rooted in Jesus, and they have the power to change anything not commissioned by God. The spirit of God can block any plan that has been exalted above God's plan. Apostle Paul understood the power of the cross and the divine power of God to deliver people from any stronghold.
To be an apostle in the first century was very difficult. Christians were undergoing serious persecution in the Roman colonies. The worst persecution Christians faced in the early church was death-the lion's den and being crucified. Another powerful form of persecution was political persecution. A person could be intelligent, hardworking, and capable in every way and never achieve any strong position in life. Now picture large populations of people not receiving a good education or medical care and living under hostile police control. This same problem exists right here in America. This is why a need for civil rights and equal opportunity laws became important in the development of a civilized nation. Crime and civil disobedience have eaten up American cities like a cancer. Lack of quality education, health care, and law enforcement has made a joke out of equal opportunity laws and civil rights.
The body of Christ has been commissioned by Jesus to break any stronghold not ordained by God. The divine power of God can only work if we move out of the way. To move out of the way, you first must be able to get in the way. We get in the way by taking matters into our own hands. No matter what the problem is, obey those who have authority over you. Prayer and fasting should always be regularly exercised in your life. The apostle Paul was faced with Christians who wanted to rebel against Roman rule in the first century. He may have known that in 71 BC a Roman slave named Spartacus, a gladiator, became the leader in a slave uprising, but in the end, 6,600 were crucified. Paul knew Jesus came to give life, not take it. In Paul's letter to the church of Colossians, he wrote that servants should not work in contempt or with defiance in their hearts but instead should work fearing God. (Read Colossians 3:23.) Paul knew the divine power of God. He knew that entering into physical confrontations with the Romans would limit or altogether block the power of divine protection. (Read 2 Timothy 3:5.)
The Holy Spirit, the divine protector of the church, is all around us. Some say people came from faraway lands to be around the powerful movement of the Holy Spirit that followed one man, an African American-Reverend William J. Seymour, the founder of the Pentecostal movement, which began in 1906. It has been said a move of God was sometimes so strong around Reverend Seymour that people would be slain in the spirit for days. "Slain in the spirit" is a term used by the church to describe when your human spirit and the Holy Spirit reach a peak. The Holy Spirit quickened the human spirit of millions across America and abroad. Quickening is when the human spirit interacts with the Holy Spirit, and a person can receive a revelation and become inspired to do something they normally would fear. I strongly believe this quickening led to the civil rights movement and civil rights laws. When there is a move of God, people are not bound by fear of man. Thousands of oppressed people in the United States became active fighters against social injustice. The Holy Spirit was also at work on the oppressor and still is to this day, fast at work, tearing down strongholds.
Civil rights laws were put in place to ensure old strongholds didn't resurface and create a reign of oppression and terror; they were created to control strongholds in the workforce that singled out people and subjected them to abuse. The laws were made but poorly enforced. Some violations of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act were never prosecuted. The government then violated the person by not enforcing the law. Such demon-led clans are in our government, the workforce, and the military. These groups attack followers of Christ and are always waiting to bring down a strong Christian. (Read 2 Corinthians 10:4.) Saints, when governments leave people behind, we the body of Christ must pick them up and set them free. The Holy Spirit has a magnetic quality. The spirit of God can attract, and it also repels. The Spirit of God will not accept people who refuse to walk in God's commandments.
Through prayer and fasting, the body of Christ can remove barriers. There was an outflow from the life of Jesus for the deliverance of a lost and dying world from its sin, sickness, sorrow, pain, death, and demonic bondage. No longer should the body of Christ sit by and watch people suffer and believe God is pleased with us. Jesus has revealed to the church we would do greater works one day.
If a believer has selfish reasons for wanting the power of God, he is in trouble. (Read Galatians 6:1.) New converts are into many different doctrines preached by hypocritical liars who have caused discernment to be placed by the roadside, replaced with emotional connections called vibes. Carnal Christians today are into these vibes, smiles, and looks. They have not had enough time to fully learn how to walk with the Lord. (Read Romans 12:12.) The vibes around some people are misleading; somehow they are picking up the radiation of life forces as they move into different levels of spiritual development. This is potentially dangerous; judging people without a strong spiritual mind can cause great problems in your life and the lives of others. Judging people based on vibes is darkness. The untrained spiritual mind should be in constant prayer and study to develop strong discernment.
In order for the church to be a strong force in the war against demonic activity in our communities, cities, and states, discernment is a very important gift, given to the church to create an orderly society. Discerning of Spirits allows the possessor the ability to determine what spirits they hear. With many people coming to Christ, it was clear this gift played an important role in the church. Discernment can help the local church to grow strong in the fruits and other gifts.
What about outside of the church? Should the church support laws that encourage correct behavior? The founding fathers of the Christian people, going all the way back to Moses, supported laws that protected social order, and the law was enforced. The church cannot accept that laws are not being enforced (Read 1 Timothy 1:9.)
Religion, to me, is creating God to be whatever you want God to be. Religion can block powerful gifts that are necessary in a demonic war. Religious leaders sometimes lack the gift of spiritual discernment. Their minds are focused on sermons that increase the tithes and offerings and the size of the congregation. For such leaders, developing a church with spiritual discernment at its root will be hard.
Some religions have totally recreated Jesus. Jesus realized the people had many different beliefs about who he was and had heard many different things about himself. Our Lord asked his disciples, "Who do the people say that I am?" Discerning the voice of Jesus is so much more than the religious world will ever understand. One Saturday, the Sabbath day, Jesus went to church. It was the custom of the Hebrews to read from the scripture whenever you returned from a trip. Jesus was given the floor to speak, and he stood up to read from the book of Isaiah. "The Spirit of the Lord has empowered me to preach good news to the despised and hated. He has sent me to let people know this is the year the Lord will give freedom to the blind and release the oppressed." Then the Lord sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were hard on him and the Lord started to speak.
He let them know that the scripture had been fulfilled when they heard the word, but they did not discern what they had heard. He spoke with such authority that the people began to ask, is this the son of Joseph? (Read John 10:27.)
They were unable to discern the voice of God because they had no real relationship with the Lord. Jesus spoke, and the people at the synagogue did not recognize him. The chosen people of God did not recognize the Lord. Have you ever gone home to find that your family did not know you? Jesus gave them a proverb, "Physician, heal yourself." Jesus told them they were doing the same thing their fathers did in Capernaum. The Lord let them know that many people died of starvation in Israel when Elijah was the prophet and that it did not rain for three years. They were the chosen people, and yet God chose to help someone else. He also let them know that they had many sick in the time of Elijah, and God did not help them; he decided to help a Gentile be cleansed of leprosy. The people in the church became enraged and picked Jesus up, carried him to the top of a cliff, and tried to toss him over the side. The Lord did not harm them. He let himself down and walked through the people, and they could not see him. The Hebrews had become so miseducated they could not discern the voice of God. They had become controlled by a nature that was not of God.
The apostle Paul and Silas gave us an excellent example of discernment and some of the fruits of the spirit in this story found in Acts 16:16-34. Paul and Silas were in a Roman village, and a young woman continued to follow them wherever they went. She told the people that these men were men sent from the highest God. The woman followed them day after day, saying this wherever they went. She was possessed by the spirit of divination, which gave people knowledge of things that the spirit of God did not reveal. Paul long suffered with the young woman. Then one day he turned and faced the woman and called out the demon of divination. Paul and Silas were both beaten and jailed for calling out the demon that allowed this slave girl to make lots of money fortune telling for her masters. They were accused of endangering the customs being practiced in this Roman village.
When they were delivered to the prison, the jailer was told to take special care to ensure these two men did not escape. That night, while Paul and Silas were in jail, they began to sing praises and songs to God, and a great earthquake came. God heard the songs and praises and saw the pain of his servants, and just as he has always been a liberator, he also freed Paul and Silas. The prison began to shake violently, and the prison doors opened. Now when the jailer saw that the doors were open, he feared all the prisoners had escaped, including Paul and Silas, and would have killed himself, but Paul called out and told him not to fear, they were still in the cell. That night the jailer accepted the Lord Jesus as his Lord and savior.
Let's take a look at what just happened to Paul and Silas. The most important thing that happened is that Paul was grieved. He could have ignored the woman, but he wanted to free her. He realized she was under the control of a demon. The demon had gained control over the lives of the people through the greed of their masters. A person operating under the spirit of divination is a fortune-teller. So fortune telling was the custom in this city.
Now keep in mind these were Romans, and many Christians were being treated very badly by the Romans. Too many Romans were not walking in the commandments of God. (Read 2 John 1:6.) In order to get the Romans to walk in the commandments of God, first it was necessary to free the people from demonic possession. Freeing people from demon oppression is the first step in creating a civil society. I believe Paul knew the church would continue to cast out demons and change society. Surely there were many other people that were possessed. The demon operating in the girl had set up a religion that made much money for her masters. Remember, religion is creating God as what you want him to be. Freeing this girl would strike a serious blow against Satan's kingdom in the city.
Excerpted from THE CHURCH AND CIVIL RIGHTS by Rev. Thomas Searcy Jr. Copyright © 2009 by Rev. Thomas Searcy Jr.. Excerpted by permission.
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