In the wake of the murders of Ahmaud Arbery by vigilantes, and Breonna Taylor and George Floyd by police, protesters took to the streets, to the airwaves, and to social media. “BLACK LIVES MATTER” as the rally cry. The chant could be seen and heard from around the world.
Many famous people, organizations, businesses, and corporations used their platforms to voice their support. Several said, unashamedly, that BLACK LIVES MATTER and declared that they would no longer remain silent accomplices, and that racism would not be tolerated around them. Some of them meant it. Some didn’t. Either way, it was said. Word was given. Now we watch to see if actions would follow.
For some, however, the words were not enough to signal a new direction. Several social media posts (particularly on Twitter) were reposted with screenshots of previous words, articles, or accusations accompanied by two simple words, phrased as a question:
Receipts. Evidence of past transgressions, broadcast as a reminder of words and deeds said and done prior. It seems necessary to remind people of their worst when they were trying to be better—to be their best.
YOU AIN’T NO BETTER
In Luke 13:1-9, there is a story of this time a large group of people from a certain town came and told Jesus about some other people from their same town. They told Jesus about their sins—I’m guessing to hear what He might say about those sinners and what they had done.
Jesus said to them (in my paraphrase), “Y’all think they worse because of what they’ve been through… because of what they did?! Shooooot… y’all ain’t no betta! All y’all need to repent.”
No one is good enough to not need repentance. To repent simply means to turn and go in a different direction. We all have some things we need to turn away from.
Jesus went on to tell a story about a fig tree that didn’t have any figs. The man who owned the tree was like… “cut it down…” but the person tending to the trees asked for a little more time. “Give it another year,” he said. It just needed more attention, some additional care, and a little more time.
When we turn over a new leaf and commit to making changes in our lives, we ask those around us for a little bit of time. We should offer no less to others who make a genuine commitment to change.
ONLY GOOD FOR SHADE
In the final days leading up to His unjust execution, Jesus had spent the night in a town near Jerusalem. On His way back to the city, He wanted to stop and grab some fruit for breakfast.
One of the things that makes Jesus so relatable is that He is so relatable lol Bro got hungry and wanted breakfast. What’s more relatable than that?
Imagine you’re headed in to work and you stop off to get ________ (insert what you would get), and they fresh out. They don’t have the very thing they are named for serving. Well that’s what happened to Jesus. He stopped off at a fig tree and the fig tree had no figs. Just stems, sticks, and leaves.
I admit, this is an imaginative use of the text, but you don’t have to imagine far… what good is a fruit producing tree that isn’t producing any fruit?
Some of us are so quick to throw shade because we don’t have any fruit to contribute.
Yeah, I said it….but I’ll move on.
I WANNA SEE THE RECEIPTS
In 2002, ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer conducted a Primetime interview with the late great Whitney Houston. In this interview, Diane Sawyer gets Whitney to open up to us and share about her battle with addiction—which ultimately took her from her family and us.
One famed portion of this interview, Diane Sawyer confronts Ms. Houston with an allegation that she had spent $730,000 on drugs. Whitney infamously says… “No way…no way… I wanna see the receipts…”
When choosing His disciples—most of whom would go on to become the early Apostles, Jesus pulls receipts on one Nathanael Tolmaison (some fun for the Greek-heads and Blue Letter Theological Seminarians). You might know him as Bartholomew aka Nathanael. I’m gonna call him ‘Nate’.
Nate was sitting in the shade throwing shade when Jesus called him. Phillip—a freshly called disciple, runs over to Nate and is like… “Yo! The Messiah! He’s here! …it’s Jesus from Nazareth!” Then Nate is like, “Dawg… does anything good even come from Nazareth?” And he goes with Phillip to see anyway.
Jesus sees them approaching and says, “It’s straight-shooter Nate! This guy is honest. He’s gonna say whatever he’s thinking.” To which Nate responds, “Where you know me from?”
Jesus: *pulls receipts* I seentchu under the tree.
Nate: Oh wow! It IS you! Son of God… King of Israel!
Jesus: You just saying that cause you know I saw you sittin’ in the shade throwin’ shade. But you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Don’t believe me? Just watch.
(Note to reader: the ‘Nazareth’ line from Nate was shade. He basically called where Jesus was from the ghetto.)
Look at what Jesus does…the way He handles this. He This You’d Nate right there on the spot. Yet, His response isn’t to disqualify him. Jesus calls him out and calls him to ministry all in one breath. Basically, “I saw you sitting there on the sidelines, yet running your mouth. Now come run with me.”
Literally: I saw you before I called you and I called you anyway.
“This you?” is receipt pulling. Thing is, receipts are evidence of something that was already paid for. When we come to Jesus, He pulls our receipts and calls us to go further with Him. We don’t have to worry about what was on our tab, ‘cause…. He paid it.
Later, in her interview with Diane Sawyer, Whitney Houston said, “I don’t care what anybody else says, or did—or what they *claimed* I was…I know I’m a child of God. And I know He loves me. Jesus loves me, this I know.”
Don’t define others by their mugshot. Jesus doesn’t define you by yours. Nippy knew this. Do you?
Now would be a good time to arrest the cops who murdered #BreonnaTaylor.
Keith Goosby II is the founding minister of NET Church. He has served in ministry for over 20 years, in various capacities–including music, social media management, teaching, preaching, consulting, and leadership. Keith’s first church experience as a child was a home church. Since then, he has attended and served at churches sizing from just a few to over 10,000–of various denominations and affiliations. As NET Church is being planted, Keith continues to serve at his Dallas home church, Golden Gate MBC, in Dallas, TX, under the leadership of Minister Vincent T. Parker. Keith is married and currently lives in the Dallas area with his wife and three sons.