You Reap What You Sow

Posted on July 23, 2016

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An AP headline in Saturday’s Tuscaloosa News, July 9, screamed in huge letters IS THIS REALLY US? In the old days of yellow journalism, the letters would have been not only big, but also in bold yellow letters to make sure no one missed the point, and, of course, bought the newspaper.

The answer to the question—Is This Really Us?—is “yes, indeed, it is us” if we are honest enough to read and understand what the Apostle Paul wrote to the small but growing Christian community in Galatia two thousand years ago.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows [italics added]. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Galatians 6:7-8, NIV

The lesson is pretty clear. Actually, it is starkly clear. You are indeed the result of what you say and what you do. Paul wrote the lesson as an agricultural metaphor, since he lived in a largely agrarian world. But what you sow in words and acts will come back to curse or bless you.

Now, I know many of you will think, quite justifiably, that other circumstances such as birth, race, sex, social and economic standing, and enough for an entire major in sociology are determining factors as well. But let’s keep the focus for a while on what we say and do as individuals, exhibiting and practicing what we were all given at birth—free will. Free will, or liberty in the largest sense, by the way, is guaranteed by both Christianity and our founding political principles.

Now, let’s return to Paul’s admonition, “a man reaps what he sows,” and listen to the pastor that President Barack Obama listened to for years as a member of his congregation.

“Not ‘God Bless America,’ God damn America!” thundered Pastor Jeremiah Wright a few years ago.

“That’s in the Bible, for killing innocent people,” he continued. “America” is no more in the Bible than my mother is, but let’s hear the pastor who preached to a man who later was elected twice to the presidency.

“God damn America for treating her citizens as less than human. God damn America as long as she keeps trying to act like she is God and she is supreme.” The tirade hasn’t stopped since Pastor Wright started preaching in 1972.

After 9/11 Pastor Wright (more often Wrong than Wright) said that “America’s chickens are coming home to roost,” actually invoking Paul’s injunction.

Wright claimed America was reaping what it sowed when Muslim terrorists plowed hijacked jets into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

For a guy who was well educated, all the way through higher degrees at such prestigious places like the University of Chicago, to raise the murder of almost 3000 men, women, and children to the level of justice being rendered on America by the followers of the Prophet Muhammad is the mind of a man whose intelligence had long gone to seed from hate.

He had been a Navy corpsman and a Marine earlier, proving I suppose that military service alone does not lead to loyalty to one’s country. Lee Harvey Oswald was a Marine also.

Sorry, you younger readers can Wikipedia Oswald.

And the old bad apple rule is never too far from the surface of reality; there are always a few rotten apples among the many barrels of good ones.

So where are we going here? Why are blacks out to gun down white police officers? Why do Muslims born in America hate Americans? What’s happening here? Why do three out of five Americans say that race relations are bad in America today? Why is every Tom, Dick, and Harry, and Bubba and Jeremiah, carrying a gun it seems today?

Let me gently suggest that we are indeed reaping some of the hate which has been sowed over the past half century by people such as Jeremiah Wright.

After one has been hammered by Wright and others for so long with the injustice and inequality of it all, many people believe this country is run by a bunch of white racists who want nothing more than to keep blacks in some form of servitude. That we have had a black president for almost two full terms and racism has erupted into violence is both ironic and testimony to his failure as a president who promised to bring people together.

We are reaping what we have sowed.

We need to sow different seeds than hate. We need to be honest—almost brutally—with each other. Speak to each other. Hear each other. Reach out to each other with a true Christian voice and conscience. Know the truth and the truth shall set you free. Free indeed.

It is a message that Martin Luther King Jr. knew and preached so well. We need another MLKJr. to step forward into the breech, not a Jeremiah Wright to drag us back into the pit of hell and hate.

Published as Reaping the Hate That’s Been Sowed in The Tuscaloosa News Sunday July 24, 2016