now I see

George Floyd’s memorial service in Minneapolis Thursday opened with the singing of “Amazing Grace.”

Who doesn’t love “Amazing Grace”?  

While it is a favorite of all, “Amazing Grace” seems especially meaningful to black church-goers. Historically “Amazing Grace” has been an anthem for those longing for freedom from oppression from white supremacist ideology and policy. 

Which is so interesting! 

Because the writer of the hymn, John Newton, was a slave trader!

Yep.  His story is instructive for us today.  

  1. Fear motivates. 

I don’t like it and don’t use it.   Some preachers like it and use it.

Newton converted to Christianity in a storm that scared him to run to religion.

  1. The Christian experience is a process. 

Newton admitted later, “I cannot consider myself to have been a believer in the full sense of the word.”  Maybe that goes along with a fear-based-conversion? 

  1. We hang on to unChristlike attitudes and actions for a long time after becoming a Christian.

It took 34 years after his conversion for Newton to renounce slavery.  He published a pamphlet called “Thoughts Upon the Slave Trade” and confessed, “It will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me, that I was once an active instrument in  a business at which my heart now shudders.”  

The pamphlet was sent to every member of Parliament and was instrumental in Great Britain outlawing slavery in 1807. 

Do we call ourselves Christ-followers but still hang on to a racist philosophy?  I’m not talking about the lynching type of racism but the type of racism that says, “We’re not racist! We had a black president for crying out loud!”  

 Read these lyrics from “Amazing Grace”:

“I once was lost, but now am found.

Was blind but now I see”

“Was blind but now I see.”  I wonder if Newton was talking about moving from blindness to sight concerning slavery.  Have we moved from blindness to sight:

*concerning our own racism?

*concerning systemic racism?

It took Newton 34 years to renounce his racist views.  

It’s been 57 years since Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech (August 28, 1963).   

It’s time.