Monday, January 19, 2009

The Spirit of MLK

I've asked before where is our modern-day Martin Luther King and heard crickets in response. While hope in a presidential candidate for change brought out the likes of Rev Wright, a preacher in the mold of MLK, but lacking the spirit of humility. I've heard a good description of Rev. King- that he held the Bible in one hand and the Constitution in the other, respecting the Separation of Church and State but more so respecting the call of God and His sovereignty over any nation or government. His cause was a social justice, rooted in scriptural morals. His struggle was not only against flesh and blood, but also against the rulers of the day. In order to bring about moral change in society, he had to take on the laws that ruled that society.

So here we are today, with lines boldly drawn along the moral/cultural divide, with entire denominations picking sides based on politics rather than the word of God. Today, religious leaders are less likely to preach with the Bible in one hand and the Constitution in the other and more likely to hold member rolls in one with political contributions in the other. So I do not depend on religious "leaders" to rise up in the spirit of Martin Luther King. Instead, I rely on the lay-person, the congregant, the Public Christian to boldly proclaim the Word of God in the face of moral decay in our society.

Right now I'm reading about Gabriel's visit to Mary to tell her she was going to give birth to the Son of God. I think of all that could have gone wrong for her by saying yes. Not only would she have a child out of wedlock, but she would claim that that child was the long-awaited Messiah. Imagine the ridicule, the rejection, the suffering she could face. She could be outcast from society, rejected by her fiance, called "crazy" by the religious leaders. There were a lot of reasons to say no, but one large reason to say yes. It was the will of God.

What do we face for speaking out in the name of Jesus? Ridicule, rejection, suffering? Do you risk rejection for society, family, and even your religion for "speaking the truth in love?" If not, then you're not a Public Christian but likely a Sunday-pew-filler. I'm not going to say what issues we need to be speaking out on, or what institutions we need to face up against. There are plenty, and too many regrettably have been hijacked for the sake of politics. But what about closer to home? Is there a false doctrine being preached in your church that you're too afraid to speak up about? Is there a local need that you have a vision to minister to but are uncertain how? Is there a neighbor or co-worker that you know has a spiritual need that only you can meet? If so, answer like Mary and say, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said." (Luke 1:38)

I leave you with some excerpts from Martin Luther King's Letter From a Birmingham Jail, 1963:

So the question is not whether we will be extremist but what kind of extremist will we be. Will we be extremists for hate or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice--or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?..

There was a time when the church was very powerful. It was during that period when the early Christians rejoiced when they were deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.

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