The church should be counter-cultural, but it has a lot of work to do in that area, the pastor of South Side Baptist Church said during the Feb. 4 chapel service at Hardin-Simmons University.

Segregated worship services are evidence of that. In fact, Blake White, South Side’s pastor since 2017, said he had told his congregation they are so pasty white they look like Elmer’s glue. He has vowed to do something about that.

BlakeWhiteHSUChapelBlake White, pastor of South Side Baptist Church, preaches during the Feb. 4 chapel service at Hardin-Simmons University. Photo by Loretta Fulton

White’s chapel sermon kicked off a month of services at HSU dedicated to Black History Month. White used the parable of the Good Samaritan to illustrate Jesus’ idea of what the world should be like.

The parable tells of a lawyer who asked Jesus what he must do to obtain eternal life. The lawyer gave the right answer, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and, love your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus told him he had answered correctly and replied, “Do this and you will live.”

But the lawyer, White said, wanted a “get out of hell free card” and pressed Jesus, asking, “And who is my neighbor.” That was a huge mistake, White noted.

“First off, don’t put Jesus to the test,” White said. “That’s not going to go well.”

Jesus related the parable in which a priest and a Levite pass by an injured man, while a Samaritan, a person from a different culture, comes to the man’s aid. The parable must have been shocking to the Jewish lawyer.

“Jews hated Samaritans and Samaritans hated Jews,” White said. “This was culturally unthinkable.”

Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist pastor and Civil Rights leader, was assassinated in 1968. During his lifetime, he stressed community, White said, and the church should do likewise. We should be asking ourselves how we can expand our defintion of who our neighbor is.

The lawyer in the parable was a nationalist and an ethnocentrist, White noted, just like many people today. Jesus’ message to the lawyer was clear and applies today, as well.

As White put it, Jesus’ message was, “I’m not here to affirm you; I’m here to rearrange your life.”

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