When America elected her first black President a decade ago, I thought that we might have finally reached the end of racial hatred in the nation. How naïve I was! In my opinion, prejudice has roared back to life. Want to have a heated conversation? Just venture into the area of equal opportunity and immigration. I am not a sociologist so I will leave the analysis to better minds. However, my Christian friend, I can say with great confidence that God finds attitudes of discrimination abhorrent.
Today our country takes note of the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
The man, a pastor from Birmingham, Alabama, used his God-given gifts to work at reshaping America’s attitudes about race, to spark the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. He saw the evil of segregation and named it for what it was – sin. His vision of non-violent resistance spared many lives as that movement gained momentum. Ever the preacher, Dr. King drew inspiration from the Scripture, using the picture words of the Old Testament prophets to great effect. He loved to quote Amos, “let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” (Amos 5:24, KJV) Perhaps his greatest gift to us was the formation of a new vision for America, best summed up in what are his most memorable speech which we now call, “I have a dream.” Few, if any, knew the strength of his words when they were spoken that day from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 23, 1963, but his vision reshaped these United States.
I Have A Dream – MLK, Jr. (read his words at this link)
As I have said, I am not reluctant to label racism as a sin. The scripture is filled with references to justice, calling on the people of God to defend those without power, to esteem others. So, where we see divisions by class, or religion, or race, or sex we must challenge it, starting right in our own heart and mind! Discrimination is a subtle sin that cloaks itself behind all kinds of words. Being ‘different’ becomes being of lesser value. Judgment of behavior becomes a reason to reject persons. Give such thoughts no standing.
Disciple, in Christ there is no ‘us’ and ‘them.’ In Him we ALL stand on equal ground. “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-28, NIV) The Scripture insists that how we love God and how we love other people are inseparable. We cannot claim to love God and hate others.
I leave this word from the Word with you today. As you ponder it, let God use it to shape your heart and mind.
“With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:6-8, NIV)
If you are enjoying a work holiday, I hope you take a few minutes to thank the Lord for the witness to the truth that was Martin Luther King, Jr.
And, I hope that all of us will pray that God will help us to wrestle with those complex issues of our time that keep us divided, starting with our own heart.
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