Today I am off of work for the observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. day, and I’m reflecting on the Civil Rights Movement. It has always been a subject that fascinates me, and I’ve enjoyed seeing its development through the study of history. The founding of this country, the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950’s and 60’s all encompass monumental moments in this country that dealt with the subject (each occurring nearly a century apart). The voice of the church in this country has provided additional insight into the subject matter, and the history of the Restoration Movement and churches of Christ are not silent in this regard (because even their times of silence speak volumes).
I still have many questions on the subject concerning the role of government and the proper implementation of justice within society. While some questions persist regarding how justice should be implemented, there is no question that the gospel stakes a claim on the subject of justice, and thus it should be a concern of every Christian.
A first and fundamental truth of the gospel is that humans possess equal value and worth because they are all created in the image of God. God’s mind and intent is revealed in creation. All people bear equal worth and value from the divine perspective. In a sense, every human is a child of God, and he earnestly desires their welfare, their willing relationship, and their salvation. God sets the standard that all humans. He provides the framework for a proper consideration of the nature of humanity.
God has further illustrated that love and kindness should be extended to others. From his providence in the Garden of Eden to the gift of his Son, God has proven time and time again that he is characterized by love. His heart is fully displayed in his actions. Again, God has provided the model for behavior. He has demonstrated what should be in our heart and shown in our actions.
It is the human impulse to rank and categorize. Ever since the creation, societies have fought these fundamental facts of creation, and our country is not exempt. Even today, the failures of humanity can be witnessed on small and large scales alike. Make no mistake; Christians today have ample opportunity to display God’s heart in the face of injustice. It is not a dead issue, and as long as humanity persists, I doubt that it ever will be.
King was not an infallible man, but as I listen to King and read his writings, I see a clear emphasis on the themes of love and justice. He advocated an active response to oppression, and he promoted non-violence in the face of aggression. Those are all themes that should be at the center of my life. While King is not the only means for considering these subjects, he is certainly a man who spoke clearly to these issues. I’ve discovered that some resent the observance of MLK, Jr. day instead of using it to consider important aspects of Christianity, life and relationships with other people.
The study of this issue, goaded by many voices in history, inspires me to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with my God. What about you?