If I read or heard about this in school, I do not remember it. Bellow you will find an excerpt from a letter Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote from the Birmingham Jail in 1963. He wrote it to 8 fellow clergymen in AL who disagreed with his approach to injustice.
The pastor read most of this portion at church yesterday.
I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South’s beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious-education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: “What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro men and women decided to rise from the dark dungeons of complacency to the bright hills of creative protest?”
Yes, these questions are still in my mind. In deep disappointment I have wept over the laxity of the church. But be assured that my tears have been tears of love. There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love. Yes, I love the church. How could I do otherwise? l am in the rather unique position of being the son, the grandson and the great-grandson of preachers. Yes, I see the church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.
There was a time when the church was very powerful in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators”‘ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide. and gladiatorial contests.
I was so intrigued by King’s words, I went to read the entire letter. It is hard for me to believe that this letter was written less than 50 years ago. How could Christians be so blind? How can we still be so blinded to the injustice in the world? It just doesn’t make sense.
I have posted this before, but I want to post it again….
This is an except from the book “Radical” by David Platt (pg 111)…
We look back on slave-owning church goers of 150 years ago and ask, “How could they have treated their fellow human beings that way?” I wonder if followers of Christ 150 years from now will look back at Christians in America today and ask, “How could they live in such big houses? How could they drive such nice cars and wear such nice clothes? How could they live in such affluence while thousands of children were dying because they didn’t have food and water? How could they go on with their lives as though billions of poor didn’t even exist?”
Is materialism a blind spot in American Christianity today? More specifically, is materialism a blind spot in your Christianity today? Surely this is something we must uncover, for if our lives do not reflect radical compassion for the poor, there is reason to question just how effective we will be in declaring the glory of Christ to the ends of the earth. More pointedly, if our lives do not reflect radical compassion for the poor, there is reason to wonder if Christ is really in us at all.
Lord, open our eyes. Just as your word tells us you healed blind Bartimaeus and let him see…heal our hearts Lord. Heal them so we can see the sin in our lives. Heal them so we can see the injustice in the world. Lord heal us so we can be your hands and your feet. Thank you for people like MLK who were willing to be imprisoned in order to fight injustice. Please place an urgency and boldness in our hearts and in the church, that we will be willing to stand for You.