I am a white female. Born into a middle class family. I’ve never been told where I could or could not attend school, I’ve never been forced to move to the back of a public bus, and I certainly have not been maliciously beaten because of the color of my skin.
Still, why does my heart feel pain when I hear about past or present injustices? Well, because I am human, and I know that I was created in the same breath, by the same hands, and out of the same heart as those who look different from me.
Recently, I’ve felt a pull towards something…I’m not sure that I can describe it, or put my finger on exactly what it is, but I do know that it has something to do with reconciling individuals to one another, to themselves, and to their Creator. This pull led me to a google search, which led me to Martin Luther King Jr.’s book, “Strength to Love.”
I had no idea how much Dr. King loved Jesus. I mean, I knew his was a pastor, and I knew that the Black Church was instrumental in the pursuit of equality during the Civil Rights Movement – but I had no idea of the depth of his love. Talk about abiding.
I’m in the chapter titled, “Love in Action” right now. King presents Christ final words as the basis for how we should love in the midst of injustice:
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34
This is love at its best.
Jesus eloquently affirmed from the cross a higher law. He knew that the old eye-for-eye philosophy would leave everyone blind. He did not seek to overcome evil with evil. He overcame evil with good. Although crucified by hate, he responded with aggressive love.
Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude.
King argues that slavery, among other injustices, is not a product of malicious men, but of spiritual and intellectual blindness. I can see this concept running through the veins of social inequality today. The mentally and physically disabled are deemed “outcasts” of society because we don’t understand them. The mentally ill end up in prison or homeless because we feel threatened by their “issues.” We are scared people, so put up walls, both physical and emotional.
In 1963, when Dr. King wrote “Strength to Love,” he was calling the Church to come out of the pew and be The Church.
As the chief moral guardians of the community, the church must implore men to be good and well-intentioned and must extol the virtues of kindheartedness and conscientiousness. But somewhere along the way, the church must remind men that devoid of intelligence, goodness, and conscientiousness will become brutal forces leading to shameful crucifixions. Never must the church tire of reminding men that they have a moral responsibility to be intelligent. If we are to call ourselves Christians, we have better avoid intellectual and moral blindness.
When I read this, I felt pride for my own church home, because although we aren’t perfect, I see genuine effort and a tenacious pursuit of this lofty goal. I believe Dr. King would be proud.
This morning I am wondering what God would have me do to join in this continued effort towards equality and reconciliation…
I suppose one thing I could do is continue the conversation, be open, avoid making assumptions and model this “strength to love.”
I want my children to know and understand Dr. King and Jesus’ heart for people to come together, I want them to “Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Mt. 10:16. I want their minds to be strong, but their hearts to remain tender. I believe that God wants to use tender-hearted, open-minded, intelligent people to move mountains.
Abiding and dreaming,