Martin Luther King Day
This MMM was written by Dr. Pattie Harris, our Christian Leadership staff representative in Delaware and Southeastern Pennsylvania.
Over time many national holidays lose their significance and gradually become relegated to the "nice-day-off" category. I pray that Martin Luther King's Birthday will never suffer the same fate. The purpose for remembering Dr. King's contribution has renewable value each year, particularly for those of us in the Christian community.
It is said that every society carries within it the seeds of its own destruction. Racial hatred is one such seed in ours. For a period of time in American church history the idea of social justice became disconnected from Christian discipleship. With the backlash by evangelicals against the 19th and early 20th century architects of the social gospel - which included leaders who doubted the divinity of Christ - social justice was tragically avoided with fear and inaction. As a result, there could be much passion about one's personal holiness while at the same time hardly giving a whimper about the lynchings occurring in one's own community.
But in 1955 along came a young Baptist minister whose preaching broke the back of theological resistance. Martin Luther King's message reconnected God's transcendence to His immanence and declared the meaning of social righteousness with sound biblical footing. Moreover, he helped to open the eyes of the nation to the fact that it is God's justice which communicates His holiness and that this justice is an important means by which the world sees and comes to know the Incarnate God.
Along these lines, Dr. King wrote: "A religion true to its nature must also be concerned about man's social conditions. Religion deals with both earth and heaven, both time and eternity. Religion operates not only on the vertical plane but also on the horizontal. It seeks not only to integrate men with God but to integrate men with men and each man with himself. This means at bottom, that the Christian gospel is a two-way road... Any religion that professes to be concerned with the souls of men and is not concerned with the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them is a dry-as-dust religion."
In a sense, the Civil Rights movement, with its underpinnings in the Christian gospel, has compelled the Christian community to see and appreciate a side of God's character that had been imprisoned by ignorance and prejudice. Out of this long struggle with our darker side, the entire nation began to experience the liberation from racism's destructive forces. For this, we owe Martin Luther King an eternal debt of gratitude. However, these gains are slipping as we see ever-new strains of racism emerging on our campuses. Let us continue to teach, reprove, correct and train our students in the meaning of justice.
Scripture: Micah 6:8 - "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"
Action Point: To develop the moral strength to take a stand for social justice, many students need an authority figure to model this attitude. At the same time minority students in particular need to see this kind of courage displayed on their behalf. So, during Black History month make a point of saying something positive and supportive in class about racial reconciliation, social justice, etc.
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