I have just finished reading Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and I highly recommend it. After reading it, this verse in Proverbs came to mind. I think it describes some of the underlying causes of racial tension, as well as the remedy:
Proverbs 13:12 (GW)
“Delayed hope makes one sick at heart,
but a fulfilled longing is a tree of life.”
Delayed and partially fulfilled promises of equality have simmered in America and are now boiling over. We can all relate to the sick feelings that hopelessness can bring. Dr. King was not only a gifted speaker, but also an equally gifted writer. He could stir the emotions of his readers, both white and black, to feel what he was feeling about racism in America. Interestingly, King’s letter was written to white clergymen who were criticizing him for what they considered acting foolishly regarding civil rights. Here are a few of Dr. King’s longings…
- He longed to hear white ministers follow the decree for integration because it was morally right, and acknowledge that people of color were their “brothers.”
- He longed to see the church become a “thermostat’” that transformed the morals of society instead of a “thermometer’” that just recorded popular opinion.
- He longed to see today’s church recover the sacrificial spirit of the early church. He feared that “it would lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no relevant meaning for today.”
In essence, Dr. King was writing to the Church-at-large. Nowhere does he talk about rioting, socialism, cancel culture, or re-writing history. But he was using his voice and influence to bring about much needed change. His method was to encourage ‘nonviolent direct action’ to create a crisis that would force the communities to respond to injustices against people of color. I think it is safe to say, the crisis is clear and there is a need to carry the work further. We may have made progress in racial equality over the years, but obviously we have a long way to go.
Will you join me in dedicating the month of May to pray for racial reconciliation, first in in Rhode Island and then in our nation? Please make this scripture part of your prayer:
Galatians 3:28 (MSG), “In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ.”
For Faith and Families,
Chairman, Board of Directors – Rhode Island