[Editor’s note: On Sunday, March 29, 2009, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan was invited by Reverend Dr. Walter B. Johnson, pastor of Greater Institutional African Methodist Episcopal Church in Chicago, Illinois, to speak on the subject of stopping the violence in our communities. The following are excerpts from that message. To order a CD/DVD of this message visit Store.FinalCall.com.]
In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful.
I greet all of you this morning with the greeting words of peace: As-Salaam Alaikum. If Jesus were here today, he would say in Arabic: As-Salaam Alaikum; or in Hebrew and Aramaic: Shalom Aleichem, but it all means the same: Peace Be Unto You.
I know we’re used to greeting each other with “hello,” “how are you doing?” or, “what’s happening?” but Jesus never used such words, for the greatest offering that we could offer to one another is peace. I offer you peace, that, not from my lips, nor from my hands, will anything come to you but that which encourages peace.
Peace is what the world is seeking, but what the world can’t find. Peace is what the leaders of the world talk about; what they are interested in finding, but they won’t follow the way of peace.
I grew up in the Episcopal Church. The church nourished me. The church gave me beautiful values. The church encouraged community life.
I grew up in a community that helped my mother, who did not have the aid of a father, to raise me. But today, look at how far we have fallen. We are not a community anymore. We are a bunch of individuals who live next door to each other, but are not neighborly. Even the church itself has lost the spirit of community.
I went to a neighborhood school, where we felt a sense of community. As a boy, when I would leave my apartment, the neighbors had their window open, and they would hear me cussing—because I used to cuss a lot—and the neighbor would call from the window, and upbraid [scold] me. And if they were close by, they would reprimand me.
There was such a sense of respect for the elder, and the rights of the elder to guide; to rebuke; to exhort the younger ones, that when your elder spoke to you, you never showed this disrespectful attitude that youth today are displaying. Youth knew that whoever was rebuking them, was rebuking them because they deserved it. There was no “9-1-1” to call to say that “Mom had abused me.”
The problem today is that parents are so stressed, that we have a tendency to take out our frustrations on our children in the name of chastisement. So, the state has seen that they had to step in to stop abuse of children—but a good paddling on the behind is not abuse. I’ll tell the police that I will whoop mine so that they will never have to, because in today’s society, the police don’t carry the kind of weapons that they carried when we were young people.
Today, they have tasers, mace, and Glock 9s. Their shotguns are ready; and they have bullet-proof vests. Why do they dress like that? It is because this is no longer a community. This is a jungle. The police are as afraid to walk in this community as you would be afraid walking in a jungle with wild beasts that you know would attack you unless you had something to protect you from them.
So what effect is the mosque, the church or the synagogue having on our community? Is it just within these walls that we can be happy? That happiness can’t be found in the streets anymore? In the schools anymore? In the institutions that were set up to steward human life? What is wrong, that we have degenerated to the point where we are right now? Today I desire to share with you why we have to accept responsibility to build our community, and make it a community again.
‘Suffer little children, and forbid them not’
In the II Timothy (3:1-7), Paul writes: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”
So Paul is saying to the church: “For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” This is the sad condition not just of the outside; this is the sad condition of the church, mosque, synagogue, and of the so-called Houses of Worship which are filled with hypocrisy!
In the Book of Matthew (19:13-15), it is talking about our condition: “Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.”
That’s really something! Now, most parents, police, and even the preachers, are afraid of our children who are out here; we think we’re safer in the House than going out in the street where the problems are; to address our own children’s needs! But the scripture teaches that Jesus had some children brought to him, that he might put his hands on them.
What would it mean for the Master to put his hand on your child? Or better yet, what would it mean if the Master put his hand on you as the parent who is not properly raising your child? “The hand of the Master” is not just his “hand,” but he wants to take control of what he wants to lay his hand on!
“… that he should put his hands on them, and pray …” When Jesus prayed, things happened, because he was so close to God. In the scriptures, when the disciples asked him, “Master, when will we be able to see the Father?” Jesus responded, “Have I been among you this long, and, you have not seen Him?” He said, “When you see me, you see the Father, for I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Me and my Father are one.” So when a man like that puts his hand on a child, and prays, you see transformation in the life that he touches!
You don’t come to church just to sing, or to pray. You come to be transformed! And if you are the same “Negro” that you were yesterday, and the day before—and the Message does not transform you—then you have not met the Master. You’re just talking about a man that you know nothing about!
What kinds of disciples were these, that they would rebuke the people that brought the children, so that Jesus had to say, “Let the little children come unto me, and forbid them not”? Who was standing in the way of the children coming to the Master? These were disciples who claimed to know the Master, but they were the biggest hindrances to the children coming to the Master!
That’s a heck of a position for any of us who claim Christ to be in; that the hypocritical way we live our lives in the presence of our children, by preaching to them what we don’t do, is forbidding the children to come to what we claim because they already see our failure.
“… and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” The Kingdom of Heaven is filled with children. Well, how does that relate to those of us who claim that we are mature? I’m talking to the elders, now. How are we mature? Who reared us? Who shaped you and me? The Bible teaches we were “born in sin and shaped in iniquity.” What sin were we born in? “Sin,” Paul said, “is transgression of the Law.”
We live in a world where whatever God said “thou shalt not do,” the world, its scholars—and even pastors—say: “That was yesterday. God didn’t mean it like that today! We’re in a modern time.” But the scriptures teach “I am God, and I change not!” because He Who saw from the beginning to the end is He who guided the prophets to speak what they speak! And because we, in our maturity, find ways to rebel against God, we are now reaping the consequences of our rebellion.
How is The Kingdom filled with children? Jesus said to his disciples, knowing that when he met them, they were already formed in a world that is in rebellion to God: “Except you become as a little child, you cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” What was he saying? He was saying that if God and Christ are formed in the people, then the people are made into a new creature.
But we are not “new creatures”; we are the same old creatures, but we “dress ourselves up.” We “dress up” fornication and adultery! We “dress up” gambling, lying and slander! We “dress up” homosexuality and lesbianism! We “dress up” what pleases us—not necessarily what pleases God.
The wages of sin is death
The scripture in the Book of Romans teaches that Paul was the great preacher to the Gentiles. And as you know, the Jews, to whom Jesus preached and was apart of, wanted exclusivity—they didn’t want the Gospel to be spread to others.
In Romans (3:9-13), Paul wrote: “What then? Are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips…”
“… they are all under sin.” Why don’t we live long? Your mother may be in her 90s, and to some of us that’s living long. But not to God. Isaiah the prophet said, “In that day, a baby will die at 100,” and you can’t even reach 100! You’ve lost your teeth and hair. You’ve lost your mind, and can’t remember where you are or where you’ve been! Turtles living 400 years; trees living 1,000 years—in the same corrupt environment that we are living in—yet we, the greatest of God’s creatures, can’t make it to 100? Something is wrong. The wages of sin is death. If we are “all under sin,” then we are all under death.
“… there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable.” The bankers! AIG! Bear Stearns! The people that were up on the mountain of money are now unprofitable; and the whole world is going down because of their greed! But what about us? People, today, are living in their cars. Look at our elders who have to survive on numerous pills a day; having to decide what kind of food they can afford after paying for their medicine! We all have become the unprofitable losers, because the world in which we live is on its last leg.
Violence began with Adam’s rebellion
Where did this violence start? Violence started in the Book of Genesis, with Adam’s rebellion. And, as you know, he then had some children—Cain and Abel.
Violence started with a misunderstanding. Violence started with jealousy, and envy. It is all among us as a people! Naturally, we won’t understand God unless He helps us to understand, for God says, “My ways are not your ways. My thoughts are not your thoughts. I am from above, while you are from beneath.” How can that which is beneath understand that which is from above, unless what is from above helps us to understand? Even when God does things that we don’t understand, if we are people of faith, then we still must submit.
God’s choosing of Abel’s offering over Cain’s did not mean that He didn’t respect Cain’s offering. God respected Cain, and He respected the work that he did, but God is farseeing—there was something else in His Mind.
Adam was the beginning of a new kind of world of rebellion; but Jesus, the Christ, was the end of a world of rebellion. What is between Adam and Jesus is all kinds of violence, war, revolution and hatred—all of the evil that we are facing today.
All youth want is the truth
Do you think that your children are the violent ones? It is not our children that are violent; they were grown up in a violent world that has committed violence against them, their parents and their grandparents! Are you mad because there are too many guns in your neighborhood? Which one of you manufactures them? You don’t even manufacture toilet paper, so if the guns are here, who put them here? And for what purpose?
How are we going to stop violence among the children, when a liar can be a president and put the whole nation at war, killing innocent people on the basis of a lie? The slaughter of people in Iraq, Afghanistan; in Hiroshima, Nagasaki—and all over the world: The enemy is making new weapons of mass destruction every day that they try out on the children of the people in Gaza; in Afghanistan!
But you are so busy focusing on the violence in your streets that you are blind to the violence that is being promoted all over the world in your name. Those that suffered the most are those whom God blesses the most; and out of them that suffer will come the great leadership—not only for us, but for the whole world.
The First Commandment reads: “Love God with all our heart, soul, mind [and strength].” But the Second Commandment is like unto it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The problem is, all of our lives, we’ve been taught against loving ourselves. You can even go under the knife, and bring down the lips; fix up the nose, because you are displeased with what God has done. But who made you hate yourself?
The Caucasian made us glorify White skin. If you hate yourself, then your destructive behavior will be to yourself, or those who look like you! So, I’m a “Blood,” and you are a “Crip”—and we’re the same people! We’ve been through the same hell; and have been robbed and spoiled by the same robber! All of a sudden, you’re my enemy, because you’ve got on a certain “color,” or use a certain “gang sign,” so our enemy can now put a gun in my hand. And I can “smoke” you, and laugh. Or, I can beat up an elderly woman, and take her money. We’ve become beasts.
The scripture teaches: “He had healing in his wings.” If you look at a book when it is opened, you will see that it resembles the wings of a bird. You are not hated just because you’re Black; you’re not suffering because you’re “Black.” The scripture teaches, “My people are destroyed for the lack of knowledge.”
Unless we suffer the little children to come to the House of God where our spiritual leaders, in the name of Christ, can lay their hands on them and pray, then we—the “mature”, the elders—will be the only ones that are coming here, getting older and happy for the moment—but just for the moment.
I thank Allah (God) for Pastor Johnson, who allowed me the honor and the privilege of coming here to speak to you today. I hope that you will study what was said to you, because it was not meant to hurt, it was meant to help us stop dividing the House of God. A Baptist Church over here, a Methodist Church over here, an Episcopalian Church and a Church of God in Christ over here, and we all think that we are different, but you cannot divide Christ. He is one, and the people that belong in the body of Christ should also be one. And I am one with you.
These young people that are here do not normally listen to sermons—10-15 minutes and you better be through. But, if someone was rapping, or singing good music, then you could attract their minds, and they would listen. These young people will listen to the truth if we are bold enough to preach it. The truth is all that they are missing, so suffer the little children and don’t be an impediment in their pathway to Christ, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.