As delivered by Change Agent John Washington, at Morehouse College King’s Chapel, December 3, 2018
“God of our ancestors, please open our hearts and minds and that we may humbly submit ourselves to you and your guidance that we need in our everyday journey. Ase and Amen”
I want to read the 2nd letter of St. Paul to the Church in Corinth, the 13th chapter, 5th verse. . I’m using the NRSV (The Newly revised standard version) It read thus:
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves.
Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?”
St. Paul said, “Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?”. He did not mean that you are Jesus. That would not be true. What does it mean when we say, “Jesus Christ is in you?” What St Paul is saying is that God’s grace, his love, and divinity lives in all of us. To access all of that, we must have to have faith in God and ourselves. As Christians, we call this Christ consciousness.
The concept of Christ consciousness, grace, and God’s presence living in us, can be traced through many traditions. In Buddhism it is called Nirvana, Hinduism it is called Moksha, but more importantly through our own heritage in African religion and philosophy more specifically amongst the Yoruba people of West Africa, it is called “Ori Inu” which translated means Internal spirit or inner head.
My grandfather always said that “There are two types of Black people in the world; those who believe that African people were pagan savages, before the arrival of the Europeans; and furthermore, Black people had no God until the white man came to Africa, or those who believe we knew God and that we had our own way of worshipping the divine one”. I’m the latter of those two. I know that our ancestors had their own way of worshipping and knowing God before the Europeans. This is evident in Yoruba philosophy. For those who believe in the teachings of Yoruba philosophy and religion called Ifa, they practice that ideology of God’s grace and presence lives within us. That they recognize we can’t reach our full potential in our destiny without having full faith in God’s grace and presence in us.
Africans had that concept of grace and inner divinity long before European arrival on the Continent. For the Yoruba people, they call it Ori inu, Our inner head. Our inner head controls our destiny and we cannot do anything without having faith in it. That we cannot achieve our full destiny without recognizing God’s divinity in us is not necessarily true. As Christians, we need our faith to help our destiny as well. Some call it predestination. God has our path predestined. We just need to have faith in Him to help us through it. Our destiny could be like instant ramen noodles, in a way. Substitute the hot water with our faith, and we have a semblance of destiny before us. But first we have to heat up that water to get our hot water to have our ramen noodles, which is the difficult part. Our task is to heat up our faith in ourselves, or to exercise Ori Inu. That our Christ consciousness, which is like our ori is driven by our faith like St. Paul said.
Our faith in the divine in us helps us avoid the doubt that larks in us. But sometimes it’s not enough. A personally story of mine. I had doubt that I wouldn’t be able to make to Morehouse or any college. That I let my doubt overwhelm my faith in my ori and Christ who resides in me. I think most people have moments like that. We let our doubt disturb our faith in God and in ourselves. St. Paul said, “test yourself,” that test involves doubt which can be our own enemy. But our ori inu and our inner divinity can help us overcome that doubt in us. We just need to recognize them. I ask the church today. Do you have faith in yourself and in the God in you? Do you realize that Jesus Christ is in you?