In thinking about today, I went to Wikipedia to learn more about today and Martin Luther King, Jr. Here is some of what I found:
- Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in 1929 to his parents, Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta King. His Father was a pastor, as was he.
- King and his father were originally named Michael, but following a trip to Berlin, Germany, King’s father changed his name and his son’s name to “Martin Luther” in honor of Martin Luther, the great theologian used by God to spark the Protestant Reformation.
- King attended Morehouse College where he received a B.A, attended Crozer Theological Seminary where he received a B.Div degree, and attended Boston University where he received his Ph.D. degree in Systematic Theology. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King,_Jr.#cite_note-32)
What struck me most deeply, however, was this quote by King from 1967.
“Before I was a civil rights leader, I was a preacher of the Gospel. This was my first calling and it still remains my greatest commitment. You know, actually all that I do in civil rights I do because I consider it a part of my ministry. I have no other ambitions in life but to achieve excellence in the Christian ministry. I don't plan to run for any political office. I don't plan to do anything but remain a preacher. And what I'm doing in this struggle, along with many others, grows out of my feeling that the preacher must be concerned about the whole man.”
My guess is that this fundamental reality of King will be lost on most people today. People will only see him as an advocate for humanity, and miss that at his core he was an advocate for Christ.
As racial tensions seem to be increasing in America, many may wonder, why are we not farther along in finding harmony? We have a national holiday; we currently have a black President; our kids are regularly taught stories of great people who broke down racial barriers such as Fredrick Douglas, Booker T. Washington, and Rosa Parks. Yet, racial discord seems to continue. So what are we missing? The Gospel.
The root of racism is sin. Why do people dislike others not like them, because we worship ourselves, and not God. As we stare in the mirror we bow down to our color and our culture, and demand that others do the same.
As Jesus so perfectly states it in John 8:34, we are slaves to sin, every one of us. This sin manifests itself in many ways, one way is racism. During the days of Jesus his own people, the Jews, struggled with other races. But Christ made it very clear that salvation was to be offered to all people. Christ loved the Jew, the Samaritan, the gentile, the poor, the rich, slave, free, men, women, children, the single, the married, the widow, the widower, the Pharisees, the tax collectors, the prostitutes, etc.
To God there is one race, the human race, and this human race is in bondage to sin. Christ came to deal with sin. Through his life, death, and resurrection he has overcome sin and offers freedom to us through faith in Him. This freedom from sin unleashes us to live righteously, to live out life as Christ lived out his life, with sacrificial love.
Paul says it very clearly in Romans 6:17-18, “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer to racial tension; it always has been and always will be. Therefore, let us follow the example of King, who followed the example of Christ and preach the Gospel. Let this be our first calling and greatest commitment.
“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. “- Galatians 3:27-28