Read: Genesis 20:11-13 |
Between 1800 and the 1950’s there was a secret society among the U.S. African-American community.
However not everyone could join this very secret society. In fact, there was no way to know how many were even in the society. The secret society started because the African-American community wanted to circumvent the denial of their basic rights by the white community. The denied basic rights included voting, education, gainful employment and the unfettered access to any hotel, bus, water fountain and/or bathroom.
Subsequently, some of the light-skinned African-Americans decided to take advantage of their mixed mulatto skin tone, good diction and silky hair and join the secret club. They decided to “pass” as white.
By passing, they benefited from the very Jim Crow laws that otherwise held them back. On the other hand, passing also split families and caused the “Passer” to live in fear that Ma and Pa would show up one day at their house in the white neighborhood and blow their cover. In fact recently in the U.S. news, an embarrassing exposure of a reverse case of “Passing” occurred when Rachel Dolezal’s white parents blew her cover while she was passing as an African-American.
W. E. B. DuBois, noted African-American sociologist and author, penned a powerful prose about the trials of passing: “One ever feels his two-ness, – an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”
Allyson Hobbs in her book,” A Chosen Exile”, dives deeper and uncovers the benefits/hidden costs of those who emancipated themselves by “passing”. They led a complicated life of masquerading as white while balancing the complicated psychological high-wire act of living white but honoring their heritage.
In fact, Hobbs found that some people decided to pass from 9-5 and not all-day every day. This part-time approach, allowed them to get a good job and then slip back into their own community to go home. To be a good passer, each person had to be a good actor. They had to at least act as if they were impartial when misdeeds or atrocities were committed against their race in order not to draw attention.
Spiritually, “Passing” is less about race and more about faith. A believer passes when they are willing to set aside their faith in order to seek favor. They willingly bypass their faith that God will deliver. Instead, they substitute a solution that will favorably appeal to the in-crowd.
In the Bible record, the concept of “passing” is not new. Abraham passed his wife off as his sister, twice! His son passed off his wife Rebekah as his sister as well. Both men compromised their faith in exchange for intermediate favor with the local authorities. In short, they did not put all of their faith in God.
On another whole level, Satan, the Great Imposter, has always tried to pass. He comes to us in whatever way would make us the weakest. He veils his sinful choice as a reasonable and rational choice. The anti-Christ will also come one day and pass himself off as the world’s solution. [I John 2:18] He will come as someone who will come claim to be the true Messiah, but will be against Christ. [2 John 1:7; I John 2:22]
Passing in our Daily Walk
Shadrach, Meshack and Abendago refused to pass on their Jewish faith and adopt a pagan faith. Even though the King assigned them Babylonian names, they did not forfeit their faith in order to find favor. [Daniel 3:15-18] God then blessed their faith even when they were thrown into the fiery furnace. Today, they stand as an example that we can trust God and not give in to the urge to “pass” when confronted with trials and tribulations.
As believers, each day we face temptations to “pass” on demonstrating our faith in order to fit in. On some days, I am ashamed when I recognize that I did not stand up for my beliefs in a decisive moment. After all, my passing may have prevented the planting of a seed.
Subsequently, we each are accountable to be on guard for the pivotal moments we each face. God knows when we are passing. His Holy Spirt will prick our hearts and minds when we should be speaking up for Him. At the end of the day, ask God for strength to pass up each opportunity to pass. Instead, ask God to help you to by-pass the fear and to stand on His promises and do His will.
1. Discover –
A. In a typical week, do you find yourself in situations where you are tempted to pass on your faith in order to fit in and find favor with others?
B. When you notice someone else disguising their faith to fit in, does your opinion of them change? Why or Why not?
2. Develop –
A. Recognizing your weak moments, what can you do now to help yourself to be more prepared to trust God in that moment when you are tempted to “pass” and not stand on your faith? List 3 strategies or things you can say or do that can help you overcome the desire to pass.
B. I recall a Barbershop conversation where the Barber was boldly expressing an anti-Church opinion to a full shop. I passed and did not interject or comment, nor did others. I am still ashamed of that moment. God only knows the young minds that were impacted by his words and not my silent words. Since then, I look for opportunities to stand boldly for Christ. Do you have any such watershed moments? Please share.
3. Demonstrate –
A. Our actions may influence other young believers. Share some principles you use to help you react more like Shadrach, Meshack and Abendago and less like Abraham.