This episode has been marked as explicit due to sensitive language related to racial slurs. Please listen with discretion.
Jim Davis and Mike Aitcheson welcome Jason Cook to share some of the unique relational dynamics of navigating white evangelical spaces as a black pastor. Between super-awkward questions, cringeworthy moments, and just downright painful interactions, Jason offers a glimpse into his own experience and encourages believers to grow in hospitality toward those outside their own cultures. The group discusses:
- An introduction to Jason Cook (1:17)
- Growing up in traditional black churches in the South (2:18)
- Pivotal moments coming to faith (4:30)
- Leading multi-ethnic churches in segregated cities (7:12)
- Awkward moments as a black Christian in majority-white evangelicalism (13:07)
- Navigating racial caricatures (17:08)
- Painful experiences as a black Christian in majority-white evangelicalism (24:19)
- The long suffering of black people in the American South (31:10)
- Accepted as a black athlete; rejected as a black man (35:01)
- Unearthing cultural prejudices (44:43)
- Interracial marriage and biracial children (46:24)
- Leading in a church when other leaders have completely different worldviews (54:07)
- Civil rights, Right to Life, and communism (59:57)
- Being yourself as a black man in largely white evangelicalism (1:08:02)
Explore more from TGC on the topic of race.
- How is it different for minorities to navigate predominantly white spaces verses how whites navigate these same spaces? What does this look like in the church?
- How can the church give space to other cultures to pursue the vision of a multi-ethnic church? What might keep a church from doing this?
- What are typical struggles churches face when moving toward multi-ethnic leadership? What gives rise to these struggles? How do churches support and submit to voices and cultures different to theirs?
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Jason Cook: If we’re not imaging God through vocation and our spiritual gifts, as he’s called us to, then we begin imaging something else. And we begin to actually reinforce many of the stereotypes that our white brothers and sisters have grown up with. But then I’m going to bring my whole self to the table. You can even either choose to love me or leave me, but this is who I am. And this is who God has called me to be.
Matt Kenyon: You’re listening to As in Heaven, a Christian conversation on race and justice. This episode is a bit more of a testimonial, one in nature as Pastor Jason Cook share some of the unique relational dynamics of navigating white evangelical spaces as a black pastor. Between super awkward questions, cringy moments, and just downright painful interactions, Jason gives us a glimpse into his own experience and how believers must grow in our hospitality toward those outside of our own culture.
Matt Kenyon: Jim Davis is your host, Mike Aitcheson is your co host, Mike Graham is the executive producer. My name is Matt Kenyon, I’m the technical producer. And without further ado, please enjoy this episode of As in Heaven with Jason Cook.
Jim Davis: Welcome to As in Heaven season two. My name is Jim Davis. I’m joined by my co host, Mike Aitcheson and we today have the privilege of talking with somebody I’ve known and respected for quite some time but don’t get to hang out with near enough. We have Jason Cook over there in Memphis, Tennessee. Jason is the German town outpost pastor for fellowship, Memphis. You grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, you are an editor for the gospel coalition. You’ve written lots of things, at lots of places, but we, our little connection is Ole Miss. You played football for Ole Miss. You had a stint with the Baltimore Ravens. And our old misconnection is that you actually attended the church that I ended up pastoring first season Grace Bible Church over there. And your name is legendary in that town, man. I am really thankful for this time. And just looking forward to hanging out here.
Jason Cook: Well, brother, thank you so much, both you and Mike for having me on, man. Looking forward to the conversation.
Jim Davis: Well, the conversation we want to have and something that we’ve talked about for a number of years is what is it like for a black Christian to navigate white evangelical spaces? There are inherent challenges and pitfalls, and really, just some straight up awkward and painful moments. So that’s what this episode is about. You have navigated a lot of spaces for some time very well. So that’s why we’ve chosen you to come in and talk with us. And I think the best place probably to begin talking is just tell me a little bit about your church background growing up.
Jason Cook: Yeah, I think that’s an important conversation. I’m glad we’re having it. I grew up in the south in a post traditionalism black church and what I mean was, is with the burgeoning, modern, charismatic Pentecostal movement that really had an offshoot of charismatism, and particularly, the Word of Faith movement in Birmingham. In the late 80s and 90s, my parents left traditional Methodist and black Baptist churches and opted for this new stream off of the holiness church.
And so I grew up going to traditional black churches, both AME, and Methodist, and Missionary Baptist churches. But I was primary reared into this new word of faith movement. That is typified by posterity gospel. And so my childhood growing up was this weird syncretism of both gospel and extra biblical teaching about salvation. In high school, when we moved from Birmingham to Atlanta, I was attending World Changers Church International, where Creflo Dollar is still the pastor. I was called to be a pastor sitting under his preaching in Atlanta, Georgia. And so my experiences have been growing up always in the black church, but they were always tended to be a more multi ethnic, integrated spaces outside of traditional mainline black Christian context.
Jim Davis: So when did your faith become alive to you? What were some of the pivotal moments in that process?
Jason Cook: So there were two crystallizing moments. One at eight when I really understood the gospel for the first time, in that word of faith setting and I understood not only sin and the need for salvation, I understood the means of salvation being faith in Christ Jesus, and the object of my faith at that time was Jesus. I knew Jesus can save me from hell, he can save me from my sin. I was burdened with this overwhelming guilt.
Jason Cook: I think in my time at Ole Miss, there was a season in which being an athlete and being 18 years old in a college campus, dealing with being at a campus steeped in racial history at the same time being on college campus, and object of hero worship and all that came along with that, I was at a time where I knew my faith called me to be separate and distinct to be holding. But at the same time, I really wanted to be like I really wanted to fit in, I really wanted the pleasures of the world. And so Romans 8 Paul says that if you live by the flesh, you will die. And I did a whole lot of that, my first year in college. But then he goes on to say beyond that, “but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, then you will live.”
Jason Cook: I was at a Christian retreat, I was in a FCA retreat in downtown Tennessee, Matt, I could take you back there today, if I had to, if my life depended on it, I couldn’t find it. But God showed up there. And Maine preached a message out of 1st Corinthians 1:18, he said, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who believe is the power of God.” And that was reformational for me in that. That was really when I took all those experiences of being a kid, of understanding not only the need for salvation, the necessity of faith in Christ Jesus, the supremacy of Christ are mediated through the Holy Spirit in the scriptures and applied it to how I was actually going to live my life in a world that really didn’t see it the same way.
And so, that was the day I really began to see both my life as a student and an athlete as being a mission for Jesus and I began to see both the spheres of the locker room and the campus as the mission feel that God had called me to begin to work out what it looks like to image him in the world at Ole Miss.
Jim Davis: Wow, that’s powerful. That testimony deserves an episode all of itself, brother.
Jason Cook: No, homie. I mean significant the grand scheme of things, man. It is the man that God has chosen by His grace to use and I’m grateful.
Jim Davis: Amen. Jason, this is basically a past and present question. You were a key leader in a multi ethnic church in Birmingham at one of the most segregated cities in America. And you’re now at present a key leader in a church, another multi ethnic church, and another one of America’s most segregated cities. Can you tell us what your experience was like in Birmingham and tell us what it’s like now, maybe you could even tell us some similarities and differences?
Jason Cook: Yeah, that’s a great question. So growing up, I grew up in integrated church bases. And even though I didn’t have the language of the multi ethnic church, I always knew that segregated churches were not God’s New Testament design… Well, let me say it this way, it is not what we see in the New Testament Church, both the churches gathered in places like Antioch and Ephesus, in Corinth, in Philipa, but also throughout the exilic epistles, 1st Peter and Timothy, what you see is you see this really beautiful, multi ethnic, multi barrier gated church that Paul actually says in Ephesian 3 is the witness to the authority and the legitimacy of the gospel. And it’s a testament to God manifold wisdom, not only in the world, but in his acts of salvation.
And so, I always knew that’s what I wanted to do, even if I never had the language to describe it. I get to seminary and I see the great, incredible need for a church like that. But again, I don’t have the language to really describe it, I get introduced to Brian Moritz and John Bryston of Fellowship Memphis back in 2007 because the church I was involved in Oxford, the same church Jim was a part of was looking to build out this multi ethnic reality.
So I found that, to say, I’ve got a history of being in these [inaudible 00:09:11], God gave me a vision early. I made a history of having these conversations and building to these ends, beginning in predominantly white spaces and predominantly white structure. So you can fast forward to Birmingham, which is still one of the most segregated cities in America. I can get an opportunity to build this church, a multi ethnic church, starting out of a predominantly white denomination and church and what I was met with along the way was the whole lot of love, hey, we love this idea, but it was the unwillingness for Christ center black leadership to lead and so what we would often find is because black people in the south, generally speaking, are very keenly aware of power dynamics.
So people would come into our church. And even though I might be up on stage, I might be doing announcements, I might be preaching, there was something in the water, that minority sense. And my grandmother came to the church. She’s now living with Jesus. But she asked me, she said, “Jason, who is the pastor of the church?” I said, “Grandma, I’m the pastor of this church.” She said, “No, you’re not. That white man over there is.” And so, what I found was even within the context of church planting, it is often the authorities that shape and govern that church plant for us in Birmingham with iron city that really sent a signal, and was really the message behind the message that many of our minorities received.
And so, what I found was for me personally, what I cannot do is I could not start to build something at a place if we could not agree that black leadership is at the very least on par with white leadership. Often, minorities in those spaces have to start from a place where they have to prove that their intellect, that their competency, that their leadership capabilities is up to snuff before they’re even given a shot. That pastor at the time told me that I don’t believe. He said, “Many people in this church don’t believe that black men can lead as well as white men can.”
And so I knew I was starting from a deficit. And I knew I was starting from a place and rather than continue to strive and work in that area, I refuse to continue to submit myself to that spiritual abuse, and really, honestly, psychological terror. Because we can’t even agree that the image of God, especially in church leadership, can be manifested in any other way outside of white representation. No, we can’t go anywhere. And so, that’s when by God’s grace, I got an opportunity to work here at fellowship. And the posture and the starting place of fellowship was so different because this church has a history of black leadership, and the honoring of the imago dei, the honoring of the gifts, the honoring of the talents, and the willingness to submit and follow that leadership.
So where I was met with suspicion, and what felt like a lot of times superficial niceness in one place, was much different here in a city like Memphis, where I was met with true acceptance, love, and the willingness and desire to be led not just by a black man, but to be led by a godly man who’s black. And the racial dynamics of the host cities are very similar. But in Memphis, people took the assassination of King personally. And in Memphis, you don’t have the geographical boundaries that you do in Birmingham, and Memphis, everybody lives on top of each other. And they’ve been forced in many ways to deal with being in the same space as one another.
So ministry even in Memphis, though similar context with Birmingham, it could not be more different than my time in Birmingham.
Jim Davis: So we’ve already touched… You’re already getting into some of these painful and awkward moments, I want to flesh that out a little bit. Let’s take awkward first. What would have just been some awkward moments about being a black Christian navigating majority white evangelical spaces?
Jason Cook: So going back to college, I think there’s the, what I would call the white ignorance that asks questions that puts minorities in really awkward spaces. So everything from what is a chitlin to did you have a dad growing up? Because the assumption is because I’m black, my dad wasn’t home. So all of those, I think, are well-meaning questions, but it puts the burden on the minority in those spaces to be the cultural exegete. And it comes from the assumption that because we share the same skin color, our experiences have been the same. So you go from that, all the way to, as an itinerant minister, I travel and preach all the time.
I walked into a church in one particular occasion, I’ve never been in a church before, I’d never talk to anybody in this church. And I walk in the church, and the sound booth is to my left and the stage is where I had, so I walk into the stage. And from my left, I hear a man say, “Hey, didn’t I just see you down at the prison two weeks ago?” And I didn’t really understand what he was saying. I was like, “Excuse me?” He said, “Didn’t I just see you at the prison?” He was trying to make a joke because he does prison ministry. But his assumption and his joke was based on the caricature that all black men are somehow incarcerated, or at the very least, the ones that he’s met in his experience have been those incarcerated at a penitentiary that he frequently serves at does a Bible study.
So you’ve got that thing. You’ve got the awkwardness of I used to wear an afro and used to have cornrows, believe it or not, I have no hair now. But people coming up and touching your hair and white people in general which, again, it’s not your will and there’s nothing 90% of the time, it’s not malicious. They’re just these small, different actions. But I think the most awkward actions for me happened in 2012, after Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman 2014, after Mike Brown was killed by Darren, the police officer in St. Louis. 2016, after the election, and in the summer of 2018, what the massive awkwardness is, you look at a person, and you’re bound in the family of God, bound by the person and work of Christ, unified by the Spirit.
You confess I love you, I’m with you. I’m for you. There’s even the service and care of one another souls. And then one of those incidents happens, you begin to speak, and you begin to lament at the very basic level, both the condition of the world and your place in it, but you’re met, not with a similar lament, but you’re met with your feeling wrongly, wait for the facts. You’ve got it all wrong. And then now all of a sudden, the awkward moment is, “Wait a minute, I thought we were in this together. But now it feels like you’re against me.”
So really the last six years of political populism, and even the speed and pace of which culture has accelerated, has introduced new terms, people are thinking in different categories, I think the awkwardness is really like, are we really with and for one another? And that requires doing theology in a different way than I think many people have been used to. And quite honestly, we haven’t been really trained to do theology at the levels, I think, require us to really build toward legitimate Christian unity.
Jim Davis: Jason, and along those lines of awkward conversations and experiences, I’ve traverse the territory of distinctions between black folks and niggas just to be candid. And in fact, I had, within a two-year period, two friends, both of whom I love dearly, white and love Jesus asked me about those realities as far as am I familiar with how white folks might tend to view black people in that regard and different culture distinctions. And one said, I think that one of the issues that white folks tend to struggle with is making a distinction between black folks and niggers. And then one friend told me that’s what their family was taught growing up. And it was followed with, “But I see you act a certain way sometimes, but I’m not sure, are you?”… And look, love covers a multitude of faults. But I’m just wondering, have you had to navigate some of that conversation in some of that territory and in candid ways?
Jason Cook: Oh, my goodness, yeah. And really, so much of what you just said is the present realities are anchored in a pattern of behavior that stretches back hundreds of years. You can go to plantation life, in the late 18th and 19th centuries, and you can find the distinctions between house miggins and [inaudible 00:18:53] miggins. Light skinned folks and dark skinned folks. You find the distinction between the uppity or educated black folks and just the salt of the earth, poor black folks. And I think all of those categorizations are ploys of dehumanization, that ultimately has at its heart, the very same question described as Jesus, which is, who is my neighbor? So who do I have permission to love and like? And who do I have permission to dismiss?
W. E. B. Du Bois in 1920, he writes the Souls of Black Folk and he makes the distinction between, as he’s talking about double consciousness and life as a black person in America, he makes a distinction in there between the magical Negro or the exceptional Negro, versus the customary Negro, even goes as far as to coin the theology and the ideology of the talented 10th. That gets at the idea that there are certain black people who are “easier”, certain black people who are “poised” for more success because they speak a certain way, talk a certain way, act a certain way.
But even all of that, it’s undergirded by the idea that so many people have a caricature of blackness that they expect and understand blackness for all black people to be the same, that blackness has to be represented. For a period of time, it was literally the figure in the person of Jim Crow. It was the person, it was the blackface character minstrel shows typified by the antagonist, and the Birth of a Nation [crosstalk 00:20:35] in films like that. Leaders in a civil rights movements were not seen as the “normal”, they were seen as the exceptional folks. And I think, fast forward to today, black people, in order to cope in these spaces have had to learn how to code switch. So you’re talking about, and being one way with one group of people, being another way with another group of people.
In some ways, my parents had to teach me how to navigate the real world, which was, “You are going to have to present yourself in such a way that you can advance. It’s why I named you Jason and not something else. It’s why we made the decisions as a family we did. So I need to teach you not only how to make it home alive at the end of the day, but how to actually be successful in this world.” So one quick example and then I’ll shut my mouth.
Last week, I had a buddy of mine, who called me from Tampa, I’ve been working here for four years. I’ve never worked in a place where I can be all of myself. And it’s completely and totally accepted and desired and wanted. But I got a call from a friend of mine, and CS Lewis talks about different friends pull different things out of you. And this friend of mine who called me, he called me and I just reverted right back to 2006, Jason, which was pre seminary, pre Agustin pre books, it was totally scummy, you know what I’m saying? It was just totally and completely, like a 2006, think about [inaudible 00:22:09] 2006, J Cook. And I had my coworkers that were looking at me like, “What is happening?
So there’s these dynamics, but all of those code switching, understanding how we navigate the world, adopting and understanding how whites tend to think about blacks at large, are all psychological and cultural tools that many of us have had to employ in order to survive, to keep our peace of mind to, endure prolonged racial terror, to endure these, what I would call death by 1000 cuts, if you are an African-American in a predominately white space, it’s death by 1000 cut, it’s how we’ve had to endure it. So we’ve had to learn the language, and we had to dress the way that you dress and maybe I didn’t grow up wearing a bow tie and seersucker. But now I’m going to do that because I’m trying to survive.
And I think the great challenge in navigating the conversation of black people and niggers is one recognizing the dehumanizing factor that would even make a distinction, recognizing that the Bible makes no distinction. That the imago dei is present in both of those, but also, in what ways are you compromising your dignity to be a black person and not an inward? And at what level are you denying the way that God has called you to image him in the world by assimilating or adopting a cultural pattern of life that is unfamiliar to you or unnatural to you? I think those are some of the core questions because if we’re not imaging God through vocation and our spiritual gifts, as he’s called us to, then we begin imaging something else. And we begin to actually reinforce many of the stereotypes that our white brothers and sisters have grown up with, rather than bringing who we are culturally fully to the table, and not saying, “I’m going to change to make you comfortable. But then I’m going to bring my whole self to the table. And you can even either choose to love me or leave me, but this is who I am. And this is who God has called me to be.” Does that make sense?
Jim Davis: Absolutely. Yes. Thank you. It’s hard for me to imagine if that’s awkward, what painful is. Because everything that you just talked to me about sounds painful. Bu if you don’t mind, what would be some of the more painful aspects of being a black Christian navigating majority white evangelical space?
Jason Cook: Yeah. I think the painful things are being in a space for time and praying for people, loving from people, showing up the hospital with people, baptizing their kids, marrying their daughters, and then you somehow find out that when you showed up to work at the church, the words out of their mouth were “I didn’t know we let niggers preach here.” Or you are a friend to their child who’s depressed, and you’ve walked with their son through quite literally suicidal moments, and 2016 happens, and I open my mouth and get to speak about the more inconsistencies of the religious and political right. And that person, the mother of that child who I spent hours with calls my case into question because how could I claim to be a Christian and not believe.
Young men whom I’ve “platformed” and that I’ve walked with and given counsel with the ministry in how to handle difficult situations, and now become to deploy theological terms and even use the Westminster Confession in ways that they never saw. And now all of a sudden, they’re taking 10-plus years of ministry, and they’re saying, “Brother, I think you’re walking away from the faith.” It’s being black in a space and understanding the painful thing as being black and white space and understanding that in order for you to rise or in order for you to be a pastor of this church, a group of white people have to essentially decide that they’re, A, willing to take the risk. B, they’re willing to walk the hard road, and C, decide that you’re qualified and competent to sit at the table, much less leave the table, but just sit at the table. It’s painful.
What’s painful is to realize that if you were to stay in predominantly white spaces as an African-American either in church or in ministry, that your worldview, your culture will most likely never be presented from the pulpit. Your heart language in worship will never be communicated. But you have folks that are telling you, “I’m trying.” But really what they’re doing is they’re saying, “We want you here, we want your presence, we just don’t want your culture. We want you here, we want you around because we like what our church looks like. We just don’t want to become anything like what you are.” And ultimately, what’s painful is when people put their comfort and preferences above true Christian love and unity, which is this thing that Christ is creating is one new man, it’s not Gentiles coming into Jewish culture and becoming Jews, and it’s not Jews coming into Gentile culture and becoming Gentile. It is something new. It’s a new wine and new wine schemes.
And so, I think the painful parts that many African-Americans in these spaces are currently enduring is, and this might be the most painful thing of all, which is, it’s hard for me to stay. I don’t want to stay, but I don’t have anywhere else to go. Because there might be personal reasons that people have walked away from the traditional and historical black church. And there’s certainly a conversation to be had about that. And there are reasons why, given a particular context, the churches that will, or options that will be available in the neighborhood, but not be great options for them.
Jason Cook: So we’re like, “I want to go somewhere. But I don’t have anywhere to go.” And many, especially young, progressive-minded Christians have actually chosen to leave the faith as opposed to link up with other churches that may be a little different from them. And so, I think the pain for me is about personal experientially, and what I’m watching happening to believers all over the place along those lines and in those categories.
Mike Aitcheson: Jason, thank you just on a personal note for sharing that. All those things you said resonate deeply with me. I remember, just over the past few years, as we’ve been navigating some of these questions and concerns in the PCA. I was looking at a Facebook posts for once, and somebody made a striking and provocative and just candid question. They said, “Are we ready to submit to our black brothers?” And I mean, it shut everything down.
Mike Aitcheson: And I’ve noticed in my time doing multi ethnic ministry that there is this sense in which you have to work to overcome a whole lot of barriers to get to the table, but then you have to work even harder at times to stay at the table. I just recall one critique that I got from a person that was attending our church that I wasn’t even in full for a hoot mode or anything. And the report was I’m just screaming at everybody and angry. And I said, “Wow,” I can’t imagine what would happen if I did, as it were, feel the spirit quickly.
Mike Aitcheson: And one time I was at RTS was where I graduated. And I thought this was one of the… It was equally funny as it was reprehensible. I was at the vending machine punching in my number to get my Snickers bar. And this white brother walks up to me and says, “Just name it and claim it.” And I said, “Huh?” I said, “No, just pay for it, and hit the five” and got my Snicker bar and walked away. I’m like, it was one of those bizarre things. I’m saying to myself, I’m sitting up at RTS at the vending machine and reading Bavinck and everybody else like you and just name it and claim it is the best that you can come up with?
Mike Aitcheson: So it just dawned on me the type of perceptions that people have about black folks. And oftentimes, sadly, it’s the ones that tend to be tertiary. And so, those are painful moments. But by God’s grace, he’s called us to navigate them for something as you articulated, more beautiful. So thank you for sharing, that resonates with me.
Jason Cook: Driving while black is a thing that black people understand. Doing seminary while black, that’s a whole another conversation that we can have that is an aspect of this conversation. But I’ve just found, man, with all of the racial trauma, with all of the slights, with all of the microaggressions, and all of the death by 1000 cuts, I find black people to be, and not just black people, but minorities in general, in particular black people, black people in the American South to exhibit the character of God. That is his macro thimea. It is patience. It is his long suffering. It is the ability to endure over and over and over again and still love, and your soul not be compromised.
Next to jazz and blues music being America’s greatest contributions to the world, it is long suffering of the black community in many ways that it’s such a gift to the world that if folks really want to know what Christian love looks like in a day and age when many people feel like their way of life is being ripped from them and we’re clinging on to this nostalgic idea of growing up in the 60s and 70s and 80s in very affluent places. If you want to know what it’s like to be in exile, and to maintain true Christian joy when no one including the powers that be share your worldview and perspective. Look at the history of black Christianity from Absalom Jones and Richard Allen being pulled up from their knees and Mother Bethel in 1782, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and look at the history of black joy and black string and long suffering for nearly 400 years.
And so, I just think even for God’s, you and I might be having this conversation now is not a testament to somehow our own strength. Paul talks in Colossians, he talks about he works with all the strength and might of Christ Jesus Himself. Paul understood that his whole ministry was fueled by Jesus, quite literally the only thing that kept Paul enduring was the person and work of Christ in the power of the spirit flowing through him. And I think, man, in terms of this conversation more, the one thing that black people continue to show up, continue to love, if you got a minority that’s in their church and your church is all white, you might just need to go and acknowledge the fact that what all it costs them to be a part of your congregation, how much it costs them, and the perpetual and ongoing costs they incur every single week, the courage it takes to keep doing that, man, that strength is not coming from them, that strength is going to be coming from the Spirit of God.
Jason Cook: Now, I understand that not every minority in predominantly white spaces is going to feel like they’re suffering in some way. But I do think that they area continued witnesses and Ebeneezers of the joy in trial and pain and tumult that is typified by the black experience within white Western evangelical Christianity.
Jim Davis: Yes, Amen and Amen. Now, Jason, do you find that a white evangelicals are preoccupied with your football background over things that are more important to you? And if yes, can you unpack the preoccupation with maybe your physical body etc?
Jason Cook: Yeah, that’s trying to get in trouble. Okay. So evangelical is a person who fundamentally believes in historically I’m going back to one of the PCAs forefathers, J. Gresham Machen’s understanding of the evangelicalism is believing in the authority, sufficiency, infallibility of the Scriptures, but also believes in the work of personal salvation mediated through Christ Jesus by faith. So sola fide, and then the Christian responsibility to good works and action based on those two ideologies. But an evangelical has that belief that’s mediated through the great awakenings and revivalism of the late 1700s and 1800s. So you’ve got three ideas, the authority, sufficiency, supremacy, inerrancy, perspicuity of Scripture, if you will, you’ve got the absolute necessity and primacy of a personal work of Jesus Christ, and the role of faith, and then the call to good works by those things.
Like black churches like AME, CME, Pentecostal, charismatic churches, if that’s what it means to be an evangelical, then we’re all saying yes and amen. I think when you add in the piece of mediated through the great awakenings and revivalism, what you get is you get reformational thought that tends to systematize things and place things in categories in order to understand the world. So you’ve got a long history of systematizing theology, of systematizing and understanding government and politics, placing things in these tight, neat little categories, though you might still believe that the Bible is sufficient, that Christ is enough, and that faith is essential. You also are not pairing that worldview with say how you view collegiate athletes, because somehow that’s separate from those foundational theological beliefs. Are y’all smelling what I’m stepping in?
Jim Davis: Am on somebody.
Jason Cook: So what I found experientially to be is that really good well-meaning people who I think love Jesus and believers can sit in the stand, and they can cheer me on or they can welcome me to their tent after the game for some budan and some red beans or rice and some subs from Leny’s, they would offer me a mint julep and some other stuff, which I’m going to deny because I’m trying my 1st Corinthians 8 Christian. And they would offer me these things, “We love you, that’s so amazing.”
Jason Cook: But then you show up at the door with their daughter to try to date their daughter, and all of a sudden, their tune changes, or they tear you when you’re gray, but then mess around and begin to tell the truth about the moral inconsistencies of the political right or begin to tell the truth about racial injustice, and all of a sudden, their tone shifts or become their pastor Michael. I mean, they realize that you as their pastor do not share their worldview, even though what it means to be an evangelical, is to believe those things about the Bible, Jesus, the necessity of faith, and prone to good actions, we can agree on those things. But you didn’t share my socio cultural religio political worldview. So now if they said we can’t be linked together.
So I think that as greater gift as systematizing theology in life has been, it’s also caused us to have many white evangelicals that have the lack of the ability to synthesize and integrate all of life through a biblical framework. And I think if we’re only understanding life experiences of our own life experiences today without seeing how the past 400 years of Americans existence have been typified by how we view bodies, in particular, how we view black bodies, how we view women bodies, and the ongoing priority that’s placed on the black body performing for us and the black body that we can serve and help. Because that black body can’t do us anything. That black body can’t serve us. We need you to perform, we need you to work, but just don’t come in our space.
And so I think, until we’re able to tell the truth about how he been indoctrinated and catechized over time to view and see the black body, we can’t ever really begin to actually deal with that allegation. Because somebody hears that, they think immediately that it’s unfair, when really, the reality is, most black football players have experienced that at some level. Now, I’m not saying that all white people are racist, and all white people only like black people when they play for you, no, I don’t believe that. But there were a whole lot of people who love Cam Newton until Cam Newton started dressing to a tee when he got to the NFL. And there were a whole lot of patriots fans who took issue that of all the quarterbacks that Bill Belichick would sign, Cam Newton would be the guy that he signed the black flamboyant, charismatic, black person because there is something inherently tied to a black body in performance.
And the last thing that I’ll say is Laura Ingraham’s comments to LeBron James as LeBron James is becoming vocal about social justice issues, she tells him to shut up and dribble. And whether it’s shut up and dribble in 2018, 2019, or it’s shut up and sing in the late 1990s, or it’s shut up and ramp in the early 90s, late 80s. I mean, just the same excuse goes on and on and on. That there’s a performative expectation on black bodies, and when that’s not met, we will give you and show you who we really are, and how we really feel.
Jim Davis: Jason, you brilliantly gave words to some early experiences I had, I’m in an interracial marriage as well. And SEC football, all that good stuff at Kentucky, and celebrated for my articulate speech and community involvement, all that good stuff. But man, there was something, something in the atmosphere changed when my wife who was also an athlete, and I started dating. And something changed in the atmosphere of the church. I’m talking about church folks. Now my brothers and sisters who were in my apartment, who love Big Mike, who was a believer, but when I started dating my wife, Lucy, there were all sorts of concerns that arose. There arose no shortage of concerns from, “It’s going to be really hard” to “Well, what does her dad think about it?” It was almost as though it had become a mythical creature of sorts, like, is this really happening before our very eyes?
Jim Davis: And so, I’ve wrestled with that for years. I’ve wrestled with the struggle of getting all these boxes checked. And I shared with a class at RTS once, they brought me in to come and talk about some of the stuff and I said, the best way I could describe it was the closer I got to white people, the more black they reminded me I was. And that was in the Christian circles, where I was wrestling through those things. And so I think that that’s one of the greatest areas that highlights our need to press into these, our sufficiency to perform but not to be accepted as equal. So thank you for unearthing that, that has to be an ongoing conversation.
Jason Cook: And it’s normal. We’ve got to actually be willing to be honest. It requires a great amount of humility for people to look at who they really are, and deal with it. It’s why salvation is a miracle because no one on their own wants to be so thoroughly and completely honest about the condition of their soul in their life. As if to say, I am so thoroughly broken, jacked up, toil up from the floor up, broke, busted, and disgusted, that I need Jesus Christ to save me. It’s a miracle. We go back to Paul in Romans, Paul says that the fleshly mind, the carnal mind will not please God for it can’t please God, it will never choose to serve Him, Paul of God. We will never on our own make that decision.
And so I think with the same veracity in which we’re able to unearth our own personal sin is the same veracity with which we need to uncover and confront our own cultural prejudices and biases. And not in just the white folks like you, Jim, that’s the black folks like me. That’s for Mexican folks like my neighbor. That’s for Puertorican people like my co-worker. That’s for Chinese and Japanese and Indonesian and Pakistani. We all need to have the veracity to unearth a name and be honest and tell the truth about our own cultural prejudices and short sightedness otherwise, we may continue to say that we desire unity but we signal silently all the ways that we’re actively working against those things. Because we’re unwilling to see the ways in which we’ve been indoctrinated and so, I think, Mike, man, that’s the story. I’ve so many of our lives have been in proximity with whiteness for so long.
I don’t know about you, but one of the things that I find is I occasionally get people who will say, “Before I met you, I was really against interracial marriage.” Or, “Before I met you, I was really against black preacher.” Or, “Before I met you, I was really x, y, and z. Bow after I’ve gotten to know you, I realized just how wrong I’ve been and I’ve had to repent, and the Lord is leading me in a different direction.” And I don’t know if you’ve experienced that. But I’m not saying that. That’s not why I do this work. It’s not what God called me to it, but it is certainly one of the mile markers in which God uses to continue to spur me on the faithfulness[inaudible 00:46:24].
Jim Davis: Yes, and yes. I have people who actually thought that I was in sin. Or Lucy and I were in sin or Lucy and I were in sin. Yes. And so, I’ve seen the Holy Spirit work, and the hearts of people. And not just in action, but in attitude as well. Yes and Amen. So along those lines, have you had any awkward or painful moments being in an interracial marriage and having biracial kids?
Jason Cook: Oh, man, yeah. That list is long. Jim, you were talking earlier about folks asking those questions, have you thought about children? And life is going to be really hard. And is this What you really want? All of these questions that I think people ask because as much as an interracial marriage is about two people, it’s really not. It’s about two families and what those families represent. And it’s about what it makes those families look like. So for many black people, men and women who were involved in interracial families, they make it all about the couple, but they’re projecting their own insecurities and they’re projecting their own fears on the couple, by saying, essentially, silently, have you really thought about how this is going to make me look?
One of the things growing up, my mom used to tell us sometimes is, and I’ve talked talk to several black folks who’ve been like this too is like whenever a black child acts up, one of the things that might frequently be told as they’re being disciplined by their parents is, “How do you think that makes me look on my job? And what it’s getting at is when you grow up for minorities in particularly, when you grew up as a minority, you grow up with a collectivistic mindset, meaning that you grow up from an early age recognizing that you as an individual represent all of the people who are like you.
Our white counterparts grew up as individualistic, where the largest group that they belong to consistency is their own nuclear family. It’s one of the reasons why we can’t have constructive conversations about race. It’s because if you’re a minority, or you’re certainly sympathetic to that aspect, generally, you’re going to think and speak in collectivistic, systematic, systemic, large group areas. And if you grew up white, you’re going to reject any structure or system that’s bigger than your nuclear family.
So when in, a family might be saying, well, “If you marry this white girl, you know how this makes us look.” But I think even more so on the opposite side to a white woman and to a white man, if you marry this black man or black woman, you know how this makes us look and we don’t know what’s in their past. I don’t know what’s in their past. This isn’t me personally, but I know that people have been in interracial marriages where they’ve been proud to label others as nigger lovers. And they’ve been proud to label others as miscegenators.
One of the stated Clerk of the state of Mississippi, in 1967, wrote an actual document, wherein he called integration and miscegenation, two of the worst things to happen to Christendom, and he lobbied actively for continued segregation and against interracial marriage. So I say all that to say like, I hear those things all the time. I’m not super interested in the statement itself. I’m super interested in what’s underneath and behind the state that we’re in. I sometimes think of myself as a cultural forensic diagnostician, because the actual thing that said, there’s more underneath there that you got to uncover that’s more important than actual statement.
It’s like when you get in a fight. Jim, you know about this. Actually, Jim, you and your wife don’t fight. Mike, you and your wife, when you’re in a fight, you might be arguing over why you left the dishes out. You get into a full knockdown drag out over a dirty bowl that’s on the counter. But that argument ain’t on the dirty bowl, that argument is on the 27 things that happened before the bowl got left on the counter dirty. So I think when someone makes the statement, “Have you thought about how hard it is for biracial kids? Or have you thought about how hard it’s going to be in this culture, you really want to do this.” What they’re really saying, is so much more underneath that. And I think that’s where as a pastor and a counselor, I counsel couples that one of the definitions of codependency is when your demeanor, when your emotional health is dependent and mirrors that of someone else.
Parents have a long history of creating codependent children. And a lot of those statements are not the result of parents who raise kids to think biblically and crystal centrically, and kids who are led by the Spirit, who are catechized, indoctrinated from the cultural lens of the world, kids who think with their minds and feel what their hearts and have the spirit lead their souls, those are parents who have parented by control and persuasion, who now their child is acting in a way that is not commensurate with how they raised them. And that reflects more on the parent than it does actual action of the child. Does that make sense?
Mike Aitcheson: Mm-hmm (affirmative)
Jim Davis: That makes perfect sense.
Jason Cook: So I think in part, yes, I’ve heard those things. But me personally, I tend to see that less of an indictment against my decision, and more of a projection of another’s insecurities. Because at the end of the day, when two become one, that is the family. Your parents, your brothers and sisters, that becomes your extended family. Their opinion matters, but it don’t matter as much as that person that you’ve linked up with. And so anyway, you’re asking all these questions that we could quite literally spend hours on, bro. So I just need to stop. But I wanted to say my guess, I have [inaudible 00:52:32] similar questions as to the ones you just mentioned.
Jim Davis: Well, I want to affirm three things from the one white guy in the conversation here. First of all, my wife and I fight. Second of all, you talked about all these statements, I thought this until I knew you. And one of the common themes that has developed in the course of this podcast is just the importance of real relationships. And because you and I spoke before we even started recording in this, some of our mutual friends who were so integral to my own journey, Mike Aitcheson is integral to my journey. There’s no substitute for real friendships. And when you know people, you can understand their world and empathize.
Jim Davis: And then there’s a third thing before we transition into a different question that I want to affirm, is I think almost every… That the two churches that I’ve had the privilege of pastoring, the one that you went to, Grace Bible and this one, Orlando Grace Church are largely white churches. And I’ve heard from almost every black brother in those churches, the pressure they get from the black community to not go to our churches. So you talk about how much they’re overcoming just to be here. It’s not just that it’s awkward for them, they are receiving pressure from their community to not do this thing. And so, I just affirm that I think so much of all the people. I won’t name names on this podcast, but you know the names I would name, people I dearly love and respect for the decisions that they’ve made, and I empathize for the pressure that they experienced that I never… I don’t think I ever will.
Jim Davis: So here’s another question. You had already left Grace Bible Church in Oxford, the last election cycle in 2016. Where were you and what did it feel like to go through the last political cycle as a black Christian?
Jason Cook: Great question. So 2014 when Michael Brown was was murdered, I preached two days after that, and as soon as I get done preaching and momentum from the pulpit, I was reprimanded by one of my co workers who’s still a dear friend of mine, that I shouldn’t comment on these things because there weren’t enough facts. I knew then that that place probably wouldn’t be a place for me. So in April of 2016, I preached my last sermon at the church that we planted, and we moved to Memphis in April of 2016. 2016, was a crazy year, personally, interpersonally with our staff, but I had been in Memphis for four months, essentially, five months when the election came about. And as a multi ethnic church, we were wrestling with how do we deal with that?
Jason Cook: So 2016, we had just moved to Memphis, we had two kids at the time, three, and Cager was eight months old at the time. And so yeah, we had just gotten.
Jim Davis: So what are some of the unique challenges? I mean, being in a white space, assumptions that are made about politics as you navigate these political discussions?
Jason Cook: Oh, man. Yeah. So one of the things I’m running into now is the frustration that pastors don’t share a worldview. I think the challenge of ministering to people who listen to, watch, and [inaudible 00:56:10] more by cable news, as opposed to God’s word. I think the challenge is people who have been taught only one very narrow understanding of Scripture without being exposed to the myriad of thought and interpretation of Scripture, not just currently, but throughout history.
Jason Cook: So the fact that most people don’t realize that Christianity was born in the Middle East, and nurtured in Africa before it was launched throughout the world, the fact that you can read your Bible and gloss over that Philip ministers to the Ethiopian eunuch, but the very first foreign convert in the Bible is an African man who didn’t take that back to the continent of Africa, especially in the Reformation world would not understand that Calvin and Zwingli and Luther source didn’t begin with Calvin and Zwingli, it began with [inaudible 00:57:06] and Augustine in origin and others who were African theologians.
Jason Cook: And so, that’s one of the very limited worldview. And I think the lack of charitable disagreement, Mike, has been one of the great challenges. But I think politically, it’s when you got Jerry Falwell and Jerry B. Jenkins famously of the Left Behind series, along with the very popular political commentator of the day, who coined and developed a religious right. He did a group who I think for good reasons at the time, wanted to influence the highest levels of politics and government for the glory of God. I legitimately think that in their minds, that’s what they did. However, what they did was they created a system that cherry picked what was biblical mercy, what we would now use the term justice, many of us use the term justice, they cherry picked which are both with mercy ministries.
And so you’ve got a whole group of people who grow up and have done Christianity, engaged in “mercy ministry”, not realizing they’ve been doing justice. And then now, folks who’ve been nurtured in that worldview, who’ve been nurtured in that political climate, who have a very narrow view of how we should read and understand the scriptures are now being open to all these different categories. And we’ve never been taught how to think, we’ve never been taught how to disagree charitably. So now, if a pastor says something from the pulpit, that now must be a Marxist, that dies down with socialism, that guys in a critical race theory, as opposed to maybe that guy is reading scriptures like Christians have been reading it for the last 2000 years.
And then I think, again, just in the age of political antagonism when everything is so personal. Partisanship is personal. So preaching becomes challenging because in a multi ethnic context, how do you preach in such a way where you’re being morally faithful and consistent, but you’re not tipping your hand politically as if God loves Republicans more than He love Democrats, or vice versa that if God somehow loved Democrats more than he loves Republicans, and that’s a great challenge and most people are unwilling to live in the tension and all of those tensions at the same time and so that just makes life especially for minority in a predominantly white space and then you got to just either understand resolved to yourself that in order to stay, I’ve got to understand I’m never probably going to see things my way or you adopt their worldview and framework at the exclusion or perhaps all of the bedrock foundational good things of worldview that you may have grown up with.
Jim Davis: Jason, you on Earth are very important, and I think timely discussion for what’s happening right now. I think back to the civil rights period, and a lot of Christians left the democratic party because of the democrats commitment to civil rights. And it really is, and I agree, I don’t doubt that there were legitimate concerns with the development of the evangelical right. You look at what was happening in the SBC, they were for abortion before they were against it. But as it became more liberal then, we started seeing an exodus and more, biblical-based ethics with regard to that starts to develop, but it still is curious to me how many folks left because of the democrats commitment to the civil rights or “commitment” to it, but then it was labeled as communism.
Jim Davis: And I think the parallels are striking, I think you have a generation of people who were labeling the civil rights movement as communistic still now, modern social justice movements, saying that it’s Marxist. So in some ways, I say, yes and amen to some of the virtuous things in defending life in the womb. And I’m pro life myself, by practice all of the above. But then, one of the things I hear a lot is, I don’t hear people say, well, why why aren’t folks talking about abortion enough? But the question I ask is, well, why weren’t we as concerned about civil rights then? And why is it now that the question is still not being asked, why don’t we care more about this, it’s why don’t you say more about this?
And so, it’s very complicated. And I’m not advocating for any one particular side, but I do think that there needs to be a fuller presentation of history. And we really do need to evaluate more closely those parallels between the civil rights movement and the exodus of white evangelicals, and the criticism that’s coming from the same evangelicals right now with regard to right to life movements and quality of life movements. So I don’t know if you had any thoughts in how you experiencing that.
Jason Cook: So when most people who are conservative and are all for capitalism who would issue and fight and get terrified even at the hint of communism will be thoroughly uncomfortable with how communistic the first the early church was. When the early church had everything in common, Acts 5, God commands Ananias and Sapphira, wealthy people in the early church to donate their land, to give their land and really to sell their land so that they can help provide for the needs of folks. Ananias said that he’s going to do it, doesn’t do it, God strikes him dead right there. God kills Ananias for lying which nobody preaches on that, that lying is worthy of death. That’s a whole nother conversation. Yeah, I’m not going to get myself in trouble.
Jason Cook: But I think another reason why is because Ananias placed his own needs and his own desires above that of the community. So when you’ve been raised and steeped with a worldview that is rooted in individualism and family and anti structuralism, and freewill, individualism, these are all terms that I’m borrowing from Michael Emerson’s Divided by Faith, then you begin to functionally interpret the world through those same lenses. And the playbook for white conservatives in particular, when you look back, it has not changed in 100 years. It’s simply got new terms and a new face. So why are we against segregation? Well, it’s non biblical. Why are we against interracial marriage? It’s non biblical. Why are we against civil rights? It’s communistic.
In the same way today, when actual communists because King, going back to kingness of rights, King was so sensitive, that communistic adhering to in proximity to communist belief was more destructive to the civil rights movement, then in a non moral or a moral living. He was so sensitive that communism was more destructive. He basically reasoned that why people would be unforgiving for a moral behavior, but more unforgiving and dismissive of communism. So when Bayard Rustin wanted his… He was actually the brainchild behind the March on Washington, He and A. Philip Randolph, they planned and [inaudible 01:05:06] the whole thing. Bayard Rustin was a gay black man, who in a previous time in his life, he had ridden for CORE, he’d dug Freedom Rides and voter registration for CORE before Stokely Carmichael became famous for SNCC and CORE 20 years later. He was engaged briefly with the Communist Party.
Jason Cook: When King found out that that would be an oath, he actually distanced himself from Bayard Rustin because communism was the thing that was going to sink the civil rights movement before King’s own indiscretions or even the own indiscretions of other leaders of the movement. And so I think in a similar way, any attempt, and this is what I’m getting at, any attempt to dismiss to push aside and not actually deal with the fight for rights and justice is the white reaction and impulse to everything. It is basically calling something Marxist or communist or critical race theory, even though you have no idea what those terms mean, but you regurgitate it so that you don’t have to deal with it, while not actually wrestling with the fact that the foundational worldview that informs all those ideologies is secular humanism, secular humanism borrows its own worldview from the Bible.
Jason Cook: So there are places where Christians are arguing these things overlap and have in common. Well, of course, they have these things in common because secular humanism is a biblical worldview without God, that’s essentially what it is. So it’s this understanding of a utopia and harmony, and unity, and we all love each other. That’s the first century challenge. The problem is God’s not there.
So I think until people can realize that every attempt to push away and not have the conversation to stiff arm and do the Heisman on any aspect of whether it’s justice, or modern day civil rights, police brutality, mass incarceration, if your first impulse for many people is, yeah, this isn’t true, or this is communist, or this is Marxist, or this is socialism, then America is going to hell in a hand basket. I think we’ve got to interrogate and ask ourselves a question like, why are we so afraid to engage with these things? And why are we so swift to run to these comfortable places and spaces that make us feel safe? And perhaps we’re doing that because my daddy and my granddaddy and his granddaddy did the same thing the last hundred years rather than actually dealing with and understanding the convergence of these ideas with the biblical worldview and the divergence of them from. Does that make sense?
Jim Davis: That makes perfect sense. When Mike and I were talking with Dr. Carl Ellis, and he said, “Man, everybody’s worried about… Is everybody’s so worried about Marx being radical, do you realize he’s nothing compared to Jesus? Jesus is the radical one. And you touch on some of that because what Marx is advocating is a mandated redistribution. And what Jesus is advocating is a voluntary redistribution to support others. So Jesus is so much more radical.”
Jim Davis: So I have a question for you, and Mike, I’ll ask you this too. And it doesn’t have to be a long answer. But given everything that you’ve talked about, how in the world can you feel like you can be yourself when you’re embedded in a largely white evangelical space, or can you?
Jason Cook: So part of it has to do with… In short, I got tired of trying to be everybody else. It was exhausting to try to be like everybody else. Children emulate what they don’t know, to become who they’re going to become. So their earliest people that children emulate is their parents. And so children emulate their parents because they don’t have a reference point for what it means to be in the world. They don’t have a reference point for that outside of their parents. So we grow up emulating and modeling what we know to be true.
Jason Cook: To Mike’s point earlier, when you’re an articulate, gifted, handsome, smart, engaging black guy-
Jim Davis: Don’t forget athletic.
Jason Cook: Athletic necessary on the top. When you’re all of those things in a white evangelical space, models are few and far in between. You’ve got guys like Tony Evans, and [inaudible 01:09:26] Beacham, Bryan Loritts and others, but up in to the last 20 years, all of our models were… Or at least let me speak for myself. All of my models were in a historically black church locally or this modern charismatic Pentecostal movement. And so the models were few and far between. So you begin to emulate what you became part of. So Piper preaches a sermon in Memphis, Tennessee, about Don’t waste your life and now you’ve got millions of young people who are emulating the preaching style of Piper and then people get woke up to Tim Keller and people emulate Keller and Dever and then you get TD Jakes, Bishop Jake’s explodes on the scene, you got a lot of folks who are emulating him and you got a whole lot of folks that are inviting him to the [inaudible 01:10:08] table talking about[inaudible 01:10:09] is a whole another conversation.
Jason Cook: But I think for me, I realized that formationally, coming out of college, and after I left the NFL, there were about four white guys and two black guys, I was really trying desperately to be like, intellectually, preaching-wise. And then there came a point where I just got exhausted, it was so tiring, I would go to church, and then I may, “Why am I taking a three-hour nap after church?” Back in the day when I would go to church, I take a three-hour nap because you go and worship for three hours, and they eat a big old lunch, and I got no choice but to nap.
Jason Cook: Then I realized it was taking so much emotional and psychological energy to perform and to fake. And I think it was taking so much energy that I was just exhausted. And so, as I was studying spiritual gifts and I was understanding growing into this understanding of vocation, how we’re called the image god of the world, I realized I’m trying to emulate spiritual gifts that God didn’t give me and I’m trying to operate a vocation that God did not call me to. So essentially, I’m in sin because I’m not imaging God how he’s called me to image him in the world, which is primarily as a preacher, teacher, pastor, and through colored and flavor by the gifts of exhortation and leadership, among other things.
And so I think that came with age, that came with time, that came from the fact that acknowledging that man, I may not have great bottles, but I just need to really lean and trust in the Holy Spirit to lead and guide me in all wisdom and understanding that I need to delight myself in the Lord, that I delight myself in God’s law, in His Word. And then I need to grow up into the image of Jesus, which means that I’m in the sanctification process, and ultimately, Jesus, I need to be vocationally [inaudible 01:12:02] through spiritual gifting how you call me to image you, and I’m not doing that if I’m trying to be everybody else.
And then honestly, Jim, it just came a point where I just stopped caring what people think, to be honest. I got to a point where my salary wasn’t dependent on people’s opinions of me. My “fame” wasn’t dependent on people’s opinions of me, where I just started to price things more than the affirmation of men and the Lord began to strip me of the idol of the fear and the respect of men. And I got to a point where, man, I just didn’t care. And I got to the point where I found myself realizing that I’m not in this space because this white man invited me in the space. I’m in a space because God called me to the space.
So when I stand on a stage, when I’m helping to lead large organizations, or when I’m speaking to thousands of people, there are some would say, “You got platform by that white guy, that’s why you up there, you are puppet, you are Uncle Tom, you just that third.” I understand that. And I understand that may be your jealousy that’s speaking right now but I don’t care because God has called me to image him in the world and in the church in this way. And if God is going to build these opportunities, then I’m going to step and walk in those opportunities, because to not image him in the way that he’s called me to is simple. So yeah, man. That’s what I would say today.
Mike Aitcheson: I have nothing to add to what brother Jason just articulated. What he just articulated so articulately. Thank you, brother.
Jason Cook: I get you now.
Jim Davis: Well, Jason, it is so good to see you. I haven’t said yet, but you’re looking good. You’re looking fit. As you can tell, I can tell, I can see it. So you look good, man. It’s so good to spend time with you. We’re thankful for you and your ministry. We’re praying for you and your family for fellowship Memphis, and look forward to hanging out in-person soon.
Jason Cook: Thanks for having me, brother. Honor to be here.