Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers… 1 Pet. 1:18
The story goes that an Englishman, a Frenchman and a Ghanaian were flying on a plane and they were required to jump out when they arrived in their respective countries. When the Englishman saw the Wembley Stadium, he jumped out. When the Frenchman saw the Eiffel Tower or the Seine River (can’t remember which), he also strapped himself and jumped out.
The plane crossed the Mediterranean Sea and, upon sighting land, the Ghanaian put out his hand. A short while later, he announced to the pilot that he had reached his country. The pilot asked him what he had seen.
The Ghanaian replied that he had seen nothing; but his wristwatch had just disappeared from his hand.
Sadly, it is true that you can have your watch popped off your hand or your pocket picked at any minute in darkest Africa; and you should be thoroughly shocked.
In a related issue – to put the icing on that story – the U.S. president, President Donald Trump, has directed that only 15% of aid will go to African countries because they don’t know how to manage resources.
Is he rrrrrrrrright on that one? Of course he is right. The African’s ingenuity in some arenas of life excels even himself.
These are not just stereotypes about the African; these are facts. Broad generalizations, given; but facts nonetheless. I know there are people who will burst a vein when they hear such things. But everything we are hearing from Trump & co. about the African is hardly news.
Notice that in our story there is nothing unbecoming written about the two white men. If you are thinking they are angels, you couldn’t be more wrong! I have never been outside Africa, but I do not need to travel beyond my house to know that the white man is as rotten as the African is. Indeed, in God’s eyes, every race under the sun is equally rotten. The Bible tells me so.
“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).
The only difference between the white man, the black man, the Chinese, the Indian, the Arab and any other race that might be on this earth is the diversity, or variety of rot. But it is all rot nonetheless. Whether they are white, black, brown or yellow, we all know what man is capable of. Since this is not a competition, I am not going to write down a list of the evils these other races excel in. But, given the genetic factors that they possess, it is a given that, in their particular realms, some of these races are infinitely much more dangerous than the African.
These racial and tribal tendencies in men the Bible calls “vain conversation”. This “vain conversation” is who we are. And when the Bible says that we have received it by tradition from our fathers, it means that we have inherited them from our fathers’ gene pools.
Scripture makes it clear that each race/tribe has its own peculiar brand of rot. When the Apostle Paul left Titus in Crete, he warned him,
“12 One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. 13 This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith” (Tit. 1:12-13).
The spiritual language for culture is flesh. Man is a product of the flesh. I see “vain conversation” all around me – in my own life, in the lives of my wife and children and in the lives of those who surround me.
Man in his intelligence has tried various methods to try and suppress his cultural tendencies and in most cases it appears as if he has won the battle. But “vain conversation” runs deep. Deep in our subterranean consciousnesses, the flesh reigns supreme.
But I love what the Bible says in Colossians 3:9-11:
“9 … seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” (Col. 3:9-11)
That ought to suffice. There is only one weapon that can defeat the flesh: it is the cross. We cannot undo the flesh in us; only Jesus can, through the cross.
Through “Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23), the Bible says we have put off our old man and put on Christ. That means we have put on Christ’s character. That’s why it is not enough to say “I am saved”. We need to go ahead and realize the mystery of “Christ crucified” in our lives.
Putting on the character of Jesus is the greatest miracle that can happen to a man. May we (the church) humble ourselves under the cross of Christ and allow it to break us and to form Christ in us. That way, we will not exhibit the works of the flesh. Instead we will bear and show off in our lives the fruit of the Spirit.
“22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 meekness, temperance…” (Gal. 5:22-23)
[We reveal the character of Christ in us when we crucify the flesh]