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“Whose side are you leanin’ on?”

Today I’m thrilled to share with you a word from my friend Christian Hammons. A man of God, DTS seminary grad, entrepreneur, musician and artist, and stellar saxophonist, Christian speaks to the current climate of injustice and race relations in light of faith in Jesus Christ. You will be blessed! Thank you for this, Christian. 

Christian Hammons profile for blog

Christian M. Hammons:

Growing up my church had this thing called “Testimony Service.”

It would happen every Sunday night during the evening service which typically started at 7pm. Testimony Service was a time anyone in the congregation could stand and testify about the goodness of God in their life.

They could do this in word or even in song. You didn’t have to be a preacher, teacher, singer, or worship leader to participate. It didn’t matter who you were. If you had something in your heart you could stand and “tell of His goodness.”

Some testimonies led to laughter, some to crying, and some to dancing!

You never knew what you were gonna get at testimony service as people who weren’t the best singers (I’m trying to be nice) would sing and people who weren’t the most eloquent speakers would speak. Looking back on it now, those services are what built a lot of character in me as all the lights, preparation, and production for the day service were laid aside, and people just showed up because they wanted to be in the “House of the Lord.”

It wasn’t easy showing up to these services because many times there was hardly anyone there. You didn’t get any clout or shine for being apart of the Sunday night service. That wasn’t the place to build your platform but it was the place to learn humility and how to love the Lord as the old saint’s would tell stories of how God kept them that very week.

I remember a particular story by a mother in the church.

She told a story about how God provided for her. I don’t recall the full story but as I remember she told us how she went to work in her rosebush and in the rosebush she found a sum of money. At testimony service she would tell this story talk about God, and begin giving him praise! As a kid I didn’t understand fully, but I like to think now I understand just a little better now.

Testimony Service as well as night service still exist in some congregations but are largely extinct in the church today as far as I know. Today I remember it because I learned a song as kid and I would occasionally stand to testify, because my mom made me.

I remember singing this call and response song that went something like this:

Leader:  “ Whose side are you leanin’ on?”

Congregation: “Leanin’ on the Lord’s side”

Leader: “Whose side are you leanin’ on?”

Congregation: “Leanin’ on the Lord’s side”

Leader “ I lean, I lean, I lean, I lean,

Congregation: Leanin on the Lords side

Leader “ I lean, I lean, I lean, I lean,

Congregation: Leanin on the Lords side

The leader of this song could change the word “leanin” to whatever word that felt like. For instance: “Whose side are you “prayin’ on?” “fastin’ on,“singin’on,” “dancin’ on,” “marchin’ on,” or even “workin’ on.

The congregation would adjust accordingly as the pulse of the beat kept everyone together. When this type of song would get going and the people felt like praising God it could turn into a real praise party.

The question of this song is what’s on my heart today, “whose side are you leanin’ on?”

With everything going on in America today people want you to pick a side.

In the world of sports basketball fans are always asked to pick a side. Whose the greatest of all time? Who’s the G.O.A.T?  “M.J” some scream! “Lebron!” Screams another. “Kobe!” Another says. Sports analyst make a living debating this topic and others in some form or fashion and every week they take a side.

However, maybe basketball isn’t your thing, so you’re not taking sides on those matters because you don’t care. Perhaps you do care about politics though.

Have you picked a side?

Every week someone on some news station makes their case especially during election season for you to pick a side. They want you to love this person or hate that person. Republican or Democrat pick a side! Independent won’t win, it’s a wasted vote, so just pick a side! That’s what we do when we vote on anything. We pick a side.

We have been picking sides our whole life and today is no different.

Today there is a cry for Justice.

Due to the on going inequitable treatment of African American men, women, and children in the United States of America, most notably along the lines of police brutality. This cry is not new and I don’t need to give statistics because we know their names. The most recent victim being George Floyd.

So there is a cry for justice in our nation, so I’m asking you “whose side are you leanin’ on?”

Are you leanin’ on the side of silence? Are you just waiting for it to all be over and things return to normal? Claiming ignorance of what to do in this situation.

Are you leanin’ on the side of justice? Crying aloud, marching, raising signs, and making social media posts calling for justice and change?

Whose side are you leaning on?

I want to invite you to lean on the Lord’s side.

The Lord’s side is a side of justice and it’s much more than that.

The Lord’s side is equally and at the same time the side of justice, judgement, mercy, grace, forgiveness, love, truth, healing, holiness and suffering.

That is the Lord’s side.

The Lord’s side comes with a burden to “let your light shine and be the salt of the earth.” (Matthew 5:13-16)  It comes with a burden to “love the Lord with all your heart” and it comes with a burden to “love your neighbor.” (Matthew 22:37-39) It comes with empathy to “rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15) It comes with power to be a witness and preach the gospel truth. The Lord’s side comes with a cross. Not the one Jesus carried and was crucified on, but the one you’re supposed to carry.

Church, where’s our cross? Where is our cross?

I know we have big buildings now and we know how to broadcast and go live on social media. We are quite comfortable in America but where is our cross? Where is your cross?

Wherever it is now would be a good time to pick it up and carry it up your hill as the Lord leads you.

As with many old songs in the black church, we don’t know who wrote the song; they are simply songs of our community, but I believe whoever it may have been was “leanin’ on the Lord’s side.”

So I just want to ask you “whose side are you leanin’ on?”



Video: “Whose Side Are You Leaning On?” by Dr. Dorinda Clark Cole

You can connect with Christian M. Hammons at connect@loveworkstruthcom. Stay tuned for more projects from him.  Drop a comment below to share your thoughts. Blessings!

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