Encountering The Trinity Through Blackness

"I have never felt closer to a higher power than since the protests began." - Deray McKesson

There is a lot of truth in this statement. I feel this way, in part, because I am living out God's calling on my life. As a Christian I have always felt the call to use my faith to become an agent of change and to be a part of a community that is seeking to transform society. In various ways I have worked toward accomplishing that throughout my life. But never before has my work felt so validated. And never before have I felt like the presence of God and the activity of God was so abundantly clear.

I spend a lot of time reflecting on the past seven months. My life has completely changed since August 9th, the day Michael Brown was murdered by police officer Darren Wilson. Despite this tragedy and the hardship that has followed there have been many good things that have come as a result of our fight for justice. I think about the community that has been built. I think about the friendships that have been formed. I think about the art and music that have been created. I think about the theology that has been constructed. In all of this I see the face of God. In my attempt to follow the advice given by the psalmist to "Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always," I have found confirmation that God is truly on the side of the oppressed, marginalized, and downtrodden. It might not seem this way because we have a long battle to fight and the odds are constantly stacking up against us, but it was at that exact point in the life of Jesus, when the world had thrown all that it could throw at him, that the ultimate power and will of God was revealed.

The work that is being done through the Black Lives Matter movement is righteous. It is a faithful witness to the radical ministry of Jesus Christ and evidence of obedience to the mandate to love. Although this movement began as a result of the growing intolerance to the unjust and brutal treatment of Black people by those sworn to protect and serve us, it is deeply rooted in love. It is not anger, fear, or frustration that motivates most of us, but it is hope and love. Had the foundation of this movement been anything other than love we would be at a totally different place right now. Throughout history there has only been one type of response to the kind of injustices the Black community faces today in America and that is one of violent resistance. But for the betterment of society we have chosen a different path, for as Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." A special kind of love has to be cultivated and diffused to both overcome evil and sustain a people whose humanity has been violated for centuries and whose dignity is threatened on a daily basis.

This special kind of love exists in the midst of Blackness as Black love; a love that emanates from God and is a central place to where we find the perfect image of God. Black love is powerful because it functions as a strong bond formed between brothers and sisters caught up in the same struggle; it is expressed romantically unrestricted by sexual and gender norms; and it overflows as redemptive goodwill seeking to preserve and create community. Every expression of love is triadic therefore every expression of love points to the triune God.

When the great theologian and early Church Father Augustine wrote about the Trinity he reasoned that we could not catch intellectual sight of the Trinity directly, but because we are made in the image of God we should expect to see something that reflects the Trinity in us. In his work, De Trinitate (On the Trinity), Augustine details several psychological analogies of the Trinity, one of which is the mind, self-knowledge, and self-love. Based on 1 John 4:8,  he links the triads found in loving something (the act of one who is loving something, the love itself, and the object that is loved) and in the process of contemplation (the mind that desires to know something, the activity of knowing, and the object that is known) to God's own movement found in the Trinity.

You cannot love that which you do not know therefore self-love implies self-knowledge. As Augustine writes, "The mind is not able to love itself unless it also knows itself." In a similar manner Black love is imperfect without knowledge of Blackness. Black awareness is a co-product of the love of Blackness. In other words, Black love implies Black awareness. Thus, producing a trinity of Blackness, Black awareness, and Black love. This trinity is a reminder of God's proximity to the disinherited people of this world.

Blackness exposes many evils that exist in society, some of which become internalized. When we push back against these evils through love we align ourselves with the will of God and become in tune with the vision that God has for this world. As we move forward in the fight for justice and continue to discuss and improve our understanding of Blackness and all that it encompasses we will undoubtedly continue to see reflections of God.
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