Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Day, a day set aside to honor a man who represents the struggle of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. I just wanted to stop and write a short post encouraging readers to actually stop, take a moment, and think about the reason many of us have a day off. Thoughts of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement evoke a multitude of emotions in people, some moved to tears, with others holding resentment.
On a couple occasions, I have had the opportunity to tour the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. The Museum is located in the Lorraine Hotel where King was assassinated. While I could write so many thoughts about these experiences, the one thing that gripped my heart deeply was that the strongest opposition to equality and the civil rights struggle came from the white churches of the south. In the name of faith in Jesus, churches supported hate, violence, and even murder. Now, I don’t mean to imply that all churches responded in this way. Some predominantly white churches did get involved in a positive way. Most responded by not responding, just keeping the issue at an arms length.
Race, socio-economic, and cultural issues still exist. Our world has come a long way from the deep seeded segregationist culture of the 1960’s. Yet, as humans, we still tend to see our culture as the best expression, and we often hold feelings of pride or resentment directed toward those who are different. Nobody wants to admit this is true, but it is, we are full of “isms”. The Gospel of Jesus speaks to those “isms” and reminds us that at the foot of the cross all men and women are guilty and in desperate need of Jesus.
So as you go through the day tomorrow, take a moment to realize that followers of Jesus should be at the front of the line when it comes to issues of justice and love. You might start by taking a few minutes to listen to Dr. King’s Dream again.