Today (1/17/2011) we celebrated what would have been the 81st birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. There have been parades, celebrations and even some protesting. Video and audio clips of Dr. King’s most famous speeches have played on radio and television stations. It is import to remember where we have come from, what the journey has cost so many and most importantly how far we still have to travel.
I want to take a look at a portion of Dr. King’s “I have a dream” speech for this message:
“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., August 28, 1963. Washington, D.C.)
Here are a few passages of scriptures that automatically come to mind for me when I read this quote:
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (1 Corinthians 12:12-27)
As Christians we are engaged in the greatest struggle; bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations. We would do well to heed the words of Dr. King.
- We are not fighting people; we are fighting the ideologies that are contrary to the gospel and spirits of the kingdom of darkness.
- We must not allow our message to become one of protest, violence or isolationism. We must maintain the purity of the gospel message.
- We cannot do this alone. We are part of the body of Christ and we need one another; most importantly we need the Holy Spirit.
“And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., August 28, 1963. Washington, D.C.)
If the church will preach the gospel with the same determination and fervency as Dr. King and those who stood with him during the Civil Rights movement I believe that we will reach the nations with the love of God in powerful way.
We cannot relent. We cannot be satisfied. We cannot turn back or slow down until we leave this earth or Jesus returns to this earth. I encourage us all and challenge us all to embrace the calling of the Great Commission on our lives with the same passion and fervency that Dr. King pursued racial equality and civil rights for all people.