Strange fruit – or good?

The Church’s broken history with race needs to be acknowledged before we can move forward. Our legacy of privilege and injustice has very real consequence for the Kingdom. It is time to prune the branches of our own indifference, so we can bear good fruit for Christ in our witness to the world.

1468679918-018_billie_holiday_theredlistYes. Yes. Yes! My heart echoes these statements from “Ye Shall Know Them By Their Fruits,” on Katelin’s blog, By Their Strange Fruit. I discovered Katelin and her blog by way of Jody’s Between Worlds blog post, 101 Culturally Diverse Christian Voices.

With eyes wide, I read and reread, “The Church’s broken history with race needs to be acknowledged before we can move forward.” That sentence captures the reason for my writing, We Confess! The Civil War, the South, and the Church.

The unusual name, By Their Strange Fruit, comes from the 1939 Billie Holiday song, “Strange Fruit.” The song’s haunting lyrics capture the chilling paradox of the lynching trees of the Bible Belt. (To see Holiday perform the song, click here and scroll down.)

The blog’s mission? “To promote justice and understanding across racial divides. We examine Christianity’s often bungled history with race/racism, and facilitate reconciliation as we move toward the future.”

Contributors to By Their Strange Fruit do two things essential to accomplishing this purpose:

  • Expose the strange fruit – calling us to face and acknowledge the stark reality of the part the church has played in bungled and broken race relations, past and present.
  • Cultivate the good fruit – sounding a message of good hope in the Lord Jesus Christ, who died and rose again, who is the Head of his Body and who will not rest until he has accomplished, in us and through us, all that he has declared he will do.

Katelin writes,

Despite our history, the Church has tremendous potential to usher racial justice and reconciliation on earth. It is the hope in Christ’s promise of redemption and holy partnership that is at the heart of By Their Strange Fruit’s mission. The Gospel is powerful in its capacity to affect hearts and mind, if we would only show the world that it is possible in Him.

I believe in the power of Cross to bring redemption to a broken world, to make allies of oppressors, and saints of sinners. This is the transforming image of Christ that we can present to a hurting world.

This is the good fruit that we can bear.

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