Spiritual Lessons Learned at the ‘black barbershop’
I went to see my barber late last night. It is not a “traditional black” barbershop, but it has many of the same elements – except it is physically and morally cleaner. I was really hoping the dietary laws in the OT would come up again (see my previous post with the picture of the lobster), but when it did, it didn’t turn out the way I expected.
I awkwardly brought up the issue by saying, “Tyrone (pseudo name), if we can just get you to enjoy your seafood without the guilt we will be all right.” He answered, “I love my seafood.” “I know,” I said. “But the last time you said you loved all kinds of seafood even though the Bible tells us we shouldn’t eat it. He said, “The Bible does say that about shell fish.” Just when I was about to play ‘Superman’ and save the day, another voice said, “Yes that is true, but what did God tell Peter in a dream?”
And then I thought to myself, who said that!? Oh, I know that voice.
It was the man who comes into this shop regularly. Actually, I’ve seen him three times before. The barber called him “REV.” He would say, “Hey Rev. how is it going?” When he walked into the shop, the conversations got cleaner, and some people sat up straighter in their seats. But I was successful in avoiding this “Rev.”
I know it sounds bad, one Rev. avoiding another Rev. But in my lifetime, I’ve come in contact with three Rev’s in the black barbershop: the one who used to be the number runner; the one who drove the big Cadillac and took everyone’s money; and the one who made all the ladies uncomfortable and the husbands and/or boyfriends mad when he came into the shop. No, I had already ‘pre-assessed’ this guy. He was probably just another ‘Reverend Bishop Charlatan’ — a democratic, social gospel, Bible-rejecter, who is probably a mason, and striving to become the next ‘bishop’ in the capital district; no, I didn’t want any parts of him. But here he was expositing Scripture with relative ease and no shame right in the barbershop!
I was in the barber chair, but my Afro was not the only thing being cut down so I could look pleasing in the sight of all – my pride was getting the same treatment, so that I could look pleasing to One.
What happened? How did I get here? Obviously, I must have forgotten some spiritual truth, several actually.
Earlier that day I was reading a theological book written by Michael Barrett (I plan to write a book review on this blog when I’m done with the book). He explained that the concept of righteousness could be stative or fientive. I applied it to something with which I was familiar – grammar. Stative is like a being verb, “He is tall.” Fientive is like an action verb, “He runs.” I understood this perfectly, I thought. Jesus fulfilled all righteousness (fientive), because Jesus is righteousness (stative). The Bible teaches that I have become the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21).
That’s fine, but I forgot that Christ’s Righteousness was imputed to my account, not infused inside of me. The heart of man is deceitfully above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it (Jeremiah 17:9). My wicked flesh (Romans 7:18-20) led me down a path that convinced me that I was higher than my brother in Christ.
I repented and confessed my sin to God.
Rev. was clearly greater. Jesus said so Himself, “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant.” (Mark 10:43). Thank you, Rev. for the lesson in humility; thank you Tyrone for the fresh cut – now I look more pleasing to my wife and children; and thank you God for the ‘fresh cut’ – now I look more pleasing to You.
Brian L. Spivey