While reading “Going to Meet the Man”, I noticed many similarities with “Down at the Cross”. For one, there is a consistent questioning of how Christianity differs between blacks and whites. Is God the same towards blacks as he is towards whites? Is there a separate heaven for separate races? In “Going to Meet the Man”, Baldwin writes about a white man named Jessie. “…he [Jessie] had never thought of their [African Americans] heaven or what God was, or could be, for them…” (Baldwin 938). Jessie deduces that there must be a separate heaven and maybe even a separate God for black people than whites. It’s not surprising that it’s not something he has thought about. Why would someone want to think that those they dehumanize on earth could actually prove to have the same worth in heaven? We see the same conclusions from a black perspective. In “Down at the Cross,” Baldwin writes, “But God…is white” (304). Baldwin has difficulty believing that the same God white Christians worshiped, could ever love him as well. We see this saddening ideology of racial separation in a belief that clearly stands for unity. This is due to the way the world we live in affects our spiritual beliefs. I find that often we judge God’s character based on the character of people or society. During Baldwin’s time especially, society said that we were meant to be separate and some automatically assumed that heaven must work the same. In our world, whites are automatically categorized as righteous and pure while blacks are subconsciously seen as sinful and suspicious. This leaves people assuming that God sees people the way society does- whites as godly and blacks as ungodly. To this day, we still have white churches and black churches. Why can’t people worship the same God together? It’s obvious that this racial separation continues to prevalent in our world today. However, doesn’t Jesus call for unity? Why isn’t the church representing God’s kingdom the way it’s supposed to? I believe these are questions Baldwin wrestles with.
Galatians 3: 28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (ESV). It’s clear that God does not see anyone as superior or inferior. He sees us as not just equal but one and the same. Separation and inequality are things the world teaches us, but not something God teaches. We must be careful with looking at the world for God when the world does not support what He says. Baldwin falls into the lie that God and the world run the same way when in reality they do not. Unity is what God calls for, yet all we see in the world and the church is disunion. The church is meant to represent Christ, and this is one thing that is certainly missing. God does not change his word for the world. We must change our world for his word. Moral of the story is to depend on God more than what we see in the world and shoot for change.