The Bridge: The Business of God


By Darryl James

            I needed a lock tumbler changed, so I decided to give some business to the Black man operating out of his van on Crenshaw.

            He seemed nice enough and when he struck up a conversation, it seemed fairly harmless. We were having a nice discussion about the weather and women and children, since my son was with me.

            Things were going fine.

            Until he asked me what church I belonged to.

            I politely told him that I wasn’t interested in a religious discussion and that I’d like to get the price of changing the lock. I told him that I would bring the lock to him and that I just needed the tumbler changed.

            He pressed on with the religious discussion, asking me if I were afraid to talk about God and musing that I must be a non-believer.

            I knew I should have walked away, but I thought I could give him a “final answer” and proceed with the business at hand.

            I told him that I believed in God, but I just refuse to discuss religion with strangers.

            He persisted and when I finally told him it was none of his business he stated: “if you were a child of Christ, you wouldn’t be embarrassed to talk about it. I don’t do business with people who aren’t children of Christ.”

            I shook my head.

            I would have given this ignorant son of the devil some choice words, but Junior was standing next to me.

            I told him he had just made the devil smile and walked away.

            I’ve seen many evil, ignorant assheads like him in my life and I knew there was nothing I could say to him to get him to understand that while he was doing the business of the devil, he was chasing away business for himself. After all, his business was in his van, not a church. And shunning people based on a divergence in religion is pure evil.

            It’s something that Jesus would have never done.

            I reflected on my experience with religion from the very beginning.

            You see, I was raised as a Christian, but my experiences from one church to another were as divergent as night and day.

            The church I grew up in was started in the Black community by a white preacher. 

All the neighborhood kids attended and followed the message and the music of this man and his followers.

The choir sang only the sterile church hymns that white people held near and dear.  There was no fire and brimstone in the rhythms, and no blood, sweat and tears in the shouting of the words. 

But I met and fell in love with Black Gospel music on Jubilee Showcase, the television show that my mother would watch every Sunday without fail.  In fact, the love for Black Gospel music made me feel lacking within my original church home, which was already becoming problematic because the preacher told us to read the bible.

And I did.

Reading the bible wasn’t the real problem, but having questions and different views from the preacher was a huge problem.  Especially when he couldn’t answer those questions and instead tried to stifle my views.

I started reading early in life.  The encyclopedia had become my friend and the library was a cool place to hang out.  The world history and alternate religions I studied on my own were difficult to place in perspective with some of the things I found in the bible that simply made no sense.

I wanted answers and I wanted open discussions.  But this just wasn’t the way of the church.

Things came to a head one Sunday when I refused to accept “just believe” as a viable answer.  And this so-called reverend who couldn’t manage the inquisitive nature of a young man with a bourgeoning intellect asked me to leave his church and never return.

I gladly complied.

I had already had enough negative experiences with the traditional church to believe that there would be no relief or growth in a place in which I held no faith.

            The traditional place of worship had held so little solace, so little tolerance of questioning and so little understanding of dissonance that it had caused me to flirt with atheism.

            So my plan was to study religion on my own while exploring my personal spirituality.

            At the library, I began to research the origin of the Christian faith, the Jewish faith, the Islamic faith and even the Buddhist faith.  What I found was that each of them had a commonality in their basic tenets of doing good to others, while preserving your body as a temple for worship of the god.  I discovered that for the most part, each religion was a way of life developed for the people who held the religion based upon the lifestyle lead in that place during the time period of origin.  That knowledge lead me to believe that I could grow to know my own God if I developed a program that made sense for my life during this time period.

            I acknowledged that I had always sought to do what I believed to be right, and that basic premise could prepare me for a righteous life within the eyes of God.  I didn’t need to complicate my moral turpitude or spiritual growth with religious constrictions.

            Historically, I knew that the original people of the earth were Africans.  Thus, if God created man in his own image, then God was African, therefore, it made no sense for people to hold on to the pictures and concepts of a blue-eyed, pale skinned Jesus. But I understood that every group of people wants God to look like them.

            I also understood that anyone who would force their version of God on anyone else had less than Godly intentions at work.

            And I understood my own personal concept of God was just as valid as anyone else’s, and that it would serve me well for the life I wanted to live.

            I can fellowship with anyone from any faith, respecting divergent beliefs because I believe that all roads lead to the one God who is all Gods.

            I know now that God is all things to all people and appears in whatever form we need as individuals or individual cultures.

            I know enough about God the world over and throughout history to realize that most people have no idea what they are talking about even though they act with conviction.

It’s almost as if some people think that holding a religion means abandoning common sense.

For example, I’ve heard Christians say that God has been taken out of school, because students are not allowed to pray. I’ve also heard that God has been removed from buildings that do not allow the Ten Commandments to be displayed.

Honestly, those are amongst the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. Essentially, morons who spit out such nonsense are saying that even though God is omnipotent and all powerful, humans have effectively moved him physically by removing some words or by not allowing people to worship under one religion. All I can think of is that these people must be wiping their behinds with their brains.

And, I will never understand how ignorant, evil morons justify shunning someone with divergent beliefs.

God is Love and it’s ignorant and evil to assert that a divergent belief is equivalent to a divorce from God.

That’s just too stupid for any thinking person to process.

            As a thinking person, I eventually gave up the smallness of singular religion for a direct connection to the richness and fullness of God.

            I discovered that abandoning the things that made no sense to me was the only way for me to focus on my relationship with God and my desire to fellowship with the entirety of humanity.

            I already understood that for some, God is a business, and in order to keep that business thriving, dead brained zombies must be kept dead in the brain, repeating things they have no understanding of and pressing others to hold their belief, even if their deeds are done for the delight of the devil.

            And I also realized that some people are minding God’s business when they should be in the business of minding God. 

Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.”  James’ stage play, “Love In A Day,” opened in Los Angeles in 2011and will be running throughout 2012. View previous installments of this column at http://www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at djames@theblackgendergap.com.

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2 Responses to “The Bridge: The Business of God”

  1. This was much needed article. So many so called religious people, black in particular because I am black haven’t a clue of how damaging their view and stance on religion is to our community. They behave as if we are supposed to all walk too the beat of the same drum! And he would have never talked too a white man the way he did you. He would respected his point of view and left it at that. But we feel as if we can preach to each other whatever whenever we want.

  2. Hi, Mr. James,

    I happen to be searching the internet to help me with something else when I stumbled upon your page. Very interesting. I love it. I bookmarked it for future readings. However, as I scrolled down I came across this post. I was reluctant to respond, but was lead to do so spiritually. God is very purposeful and only He and you know the true relationship between the two of you. In that, He also knows your needs. If you don’t mind, although there was much to be said, I have responded to some of your post. And it still seems to be much. I have also followed up my comments with scripture to express an understanding that what is said is not of me, but backed by the word of God. So I don’t won’t you saying, “Oh boy, here comes one of those bible thumpers.” (lol) Which I am, I strive to live according to the word. I used to be caught up in religion, but in the last maybe year and a half, I have separated myself from that and was led to a new teaching. I have a new understanding of the word and how to apply it. it’s like starting all over. Removing the damage of religion and getting to the true power of the word of God. A Believer can scream, shout, praise, and run around the church all day and night, but without the correct understanding and application of the word of God, the life will remain the same powerless and unchanged- except for a façade. God is forward moving in growth and progress- build upon build. Listed below are some responses to your post.

    Darryl James: “I also understood that anyone who would force their version of God on anyone else had less than Godly intentions at work.”

    *The word is not to be forced on anyone, but given as a witness that one might be saved. “And whosoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.” (Luke 9:5) However, the word is also a seed planted and it is God who gives light to you for reception and understanding. (2 Corinthians 4:3,4) also 1 Peter 2:23, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” However, how can you receive the word unless someone shares it first? “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?…” (Romans 10:14,15)

    Darryl James: “I can fellowship with anyone from any faith, respecting divergent beliefs because I believe that all roads lead to the one God who is all Gods.”

    *Not all roads lead to the One true living God. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines (teachings) of devils.” (1 Timothy 4:1) and also, “Beloved, DO not put faith in every spirit, but prove (test) the spirits to discover whether they proceed from God; for many false prophets have gone forth into the world.” (1 John 4:1 AMP Bible) Make sure you are being led by the spirit and not the flesh.

    Darryl James: “And I understood my own personal concept of God was just as valid as anyone else’s, and that it would serve me well for the life I wanted to live.”

    *All I can say is be careful with that. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death/destruction.” (Proverbs 14:12) and “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5,6) As a born again believer your life is not about you, but about the business of the Father. “Who have saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”
    (II Timothy 1:9) If you are not born again, then this does not apply to you and you freely live by your statement.

    Darryl James: “I acknowledged that I had always sought to do what I believed to be right, and that basic premise could prepare me for a righteous life within the eyes of God. I didn’t need to complicate my moral turpitude or spiritual growth with religious constrictions.”

    *Absolutely… However, as a born again believer, righteousness is a gift given to you by faith of Jesus Christ and given unto all and upon all them that believe…” (Romans 3:22) There is nothing you have to do to earn it or do to make yourself righteous. You were immediately made righteous when you accepted salvation. “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by One, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17) You don’t have to work to be righteous or right standing. At this point, the only thing you are working to perfect is holiness; having one mind with God- agreeing with what He agrees with, denying what He denies; having your ways line up with His and doing this by renewing your mind with the word of God. (Romans 12:1,2)

    Darryl James: “Historically, I knew that the original people of the earth were Africans. Thus, if God created man in his own image, then God was African, therefore, it made no sense for people to hold on to the pictures and concepts of a blue-eyed, pale skinned Jesus. But I understood that every group of people wants God to look like them.”

    *In Genesis 1:26 God created man in His own image- meaning His Spirit- we have his DNA. However, after the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eve, we took on the spirit of the devil and from that point were all born into sin. But we had to be born again. Once born again, everything God has we now have because we now have His Spirit (image). Jesus came and reconciled us unto the Father and made it right.

    When God created man, He created a Tri-part being: spirit, soul, body. Man is a spirit- not have a spirit- but is a spirit, who possess a soul; which lives in a body or shall. The spirit is the most powerful of the three and the leader. Because the new spirit is exactly like God in His image, not image as in Africans or Caucasians, etc. It is all about the spirit. God is a Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth. The word of God and the Spirit of God are one. So if we now have His Spirit, we are of Him which only responds to His word. “And the Word (Jesus Christ) was made flesh, and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14) However, being born again and made new, a believer must now train the mind/soul to line up with the new spirit. Until the renewing of the mind with the word of God, the flesh and soul/mind are separated from the spirit. In this state, everything the soul and flesh responds to is usually worldly- which is not of God. This is usually why you see born again Christians, saved, still behaving the same as before they were born again. There is no difference in behavior when there should be, over time, more and more evidence of a new life in Christ Jesus. They have not renewed their minds with the word of God; therefore becoming carnal (worldly) Christians.

    Darryl James: “And I also realized that some people are minding God’s business when they should be in the business of minding God.”

    *But minding God’s business is in the business of minding God. “I Assure you, most solemnly I say unto you, he that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father.” (John 14:12)

    If you truly have a relationship with God then you trust in His word and allow Him to order your steps. There is no safer place to be, than in the will of God. Again, if you are not there, unless God reveals His truth to you, you won’t receive- you can’t do it leaning to your own understanding. Natural things understand and accept natural things and spiritual things to spiritual things. The natural man cannot understand, discern, or accept the things of the spirit- they are foolishness to him. (I Corinthians chapter 2:7-14)

    Darryl James: “He persisted and when I finally told him it was none of his business he stated: “if you were a child of Christ, you wouldn’t be embarrassed to talk about it. I don’t do business with people who aren’t children of Christ.”
    I shook my head.
    I would have given this ignorant son of the devil some choice words, but Junior was standing next to me.
    I told him he had just made the devil smile and walked away.”

    *I totally agree with you in this instance. Jesus would not have handled the situation that way. Attempting to share the word of God with someone in one breath and then in another, demonstrate a spirit of arrogance and exclusion is not of God. For God is love. (1 John 4:16) The word also says to, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how to answer every man.” (Colossians 4:6) But at the same time, when you cross paths with Christians such as this, charge it to there mind and not their heart (spirit). Identifying that they have yet to grow and mature in the word, and is being led by the flesh and not the spirit. (Romans 8:1 & 5-8; Galatians 5:16; Hebrews 5:12-14) However, he was correct about sharing the word of God. That is a deception of the enemy that the word is private and only shared in the privacy of the home or in the church. That is a deception that the word does not get out. The word says that if you confess Me before men, I will confess you before the Father; but if you deny Me before men I will deny you before the Father. (Matthew 10:32,33) Again, if one is not reading or willing to receive the word, it is not to be forced upon a person. This behavior makes a believer no better than the one he or she is attempting to share the word with.

    Lastly, you also struggle with this (the full acceptance of the word of God) because you are analyzing religion. Being religious is not the same as being spiritual. Religion is governed by laws, rituals, and traditions that are not accepting of God. The Pharisees and the Scribes practiced religion- Jesus rebuked them and called them hypocrites. Religion creates barriers and limits, and places people in bondage. “See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism and vain deceit (idle fancies and plan nonsense), following human tradition (men’s ideas of the material rather than the spiritual world), just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding the teachings of Christ the Messiah.” (Colossians 2:8) Jesus came and freed man from that. There is a difference with living according to religion and being saved and set free by the grace of Jesus Christ through faith. (Romans 5:19-21; Ephesians 2:7-9)

    If you really believe God as you say you do, then sincerely seek Him from your heart (spirit) and He will lead and direct you to His truth and understanding.

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