The Jelly Bean Gospel

Sometimes I wish we lived in a world where race was not a powerful determinant of our future. I wish we could speak about certain things and realize that they are truly harmless. But we can’t. That is not our America.. Not yet.

In America, or maybe even in various other cultures, we have demonized the color black. The ideology and internalization of the color ‘black’ is apparent is so many of our Christian visualizations.

Plain example: When you see a play or any sort of spectacle in the church, the color that represents sin and evilness is often the color black.

This is even more apparent in the Jelly Bean Gospel. Look, don’t get all holy on me, you know what I mean, it’s Easter Sunday, the kids go to Sunday school, they come back with a bag of jelly beans that are used to share the ‘gospel’. The white jelly bean represents Godliness and purity and the black jelly bean represents sin and evil in the world. We don’t think much about it. We accept it as such and we move on. Typically the kids are given theses jelly beans without a lesson explaining their meaning…

I can see the minds of some of you just churning and negating the things I am saying. Look, if you are going to use jelly beans be mindful of your wording. 9 times out of 10 this lesson is presented to our younger children who are growing, learning and absorbing everything around them. This is both a phenomenally wonderful thing and a terribly frightening thing in our society today.

Our countries history as it relates to racial tension is one of turmoil and continues to be one today. Yes, we have come a long way but beloved, the journey is long. The words ‘black’ and ‘white’ are powerful. And when you give a young ‘black’ boy a bag of jelly beans that tells him that ‘black’ means evil and sinful… be weary of the message he is receiving. Be weary that this young boy is developing his identity and his place in the world… Be weary, Beloved.

There is a much more powerful way to present this lesson. A much much more powerful way. (If I am wrong on this, correct me!) I have done a small amount of research on how God refers to sin within the Bible and every instance I found was God referring to sin in terms of ‘darkness’ which is the absence of light. Symbolically, a life of sin is one without light in which knowing God as your personal Savior brings LIGHT to your life…So why not share that? Why not demonstrate a life of darkness in a classroom with no lights and then turn on the lights to show the overwhelming power of knowing God in our lives?

Darling, I know, you may think this is trivial, but as an educator I am well aware of the power of language on young minds. The internalization of oppression as well as the unintentional meaning of these jelly beans. I KNOW that those sharing this Gospel via these tasty jelly beans do not mean it to be thought of in such a way, but dearies, when we are presenting the word of God, I want it to be presented as truthfully as possible.

Utilize the representation of this Gospel as it is written.

John 3: 19-20. Ephesians 5:11. 1 John 1: 5-6. John 12: 35. 2 Samuel 22: 29.

My position in life has allowed me to see the Gospel and various simple church practices in a different light. I write about such revelations not to condemn or shame others but as a way to educate both myself as well as others. Honestly, I was not made aware of the damage of this simple practice until a African American mother discussed how it made her son feel. And I was truly devastated and I wanted to yell “NO! It was never meant that way! That’s not what it meant!”.. We have to realize that though we have the best intentions, we cannot dictate how others will feel about our actions. Do your actions and words make others feel God?

I know the power of Light and the amazing, overwhelming power of my God and when I share his love with others, I want it to be in the most pure and powerful way. I want to use his word as it is written, as it was intended. I understand that to attempt to navigate the injustices in this world are tedious, but is it not more dangerous for a child to leave Sunday school thinking that because he is black that he is indefinitely confined to a life of sin?


Miss Locklear

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