I’ve been thinking this morning about Martin Luther King, Jr. Actually I’ve been thinking about him since last week when my kindergartener son whispered to me after school, "We learned about Martin Luther King." I was pleased to discover that my son was introduced to MLK. (To see some photographs of King’s life, click here.) As I’ve read articles and blogs in the run-up to today, I’ve been moved again by the challenge of King’s words, particularly to the church: "I have been so greatly disappointed with the white church and its leadership. . . All too many have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows. . . The contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an arch-defender of the status quo. . ."
And I’ve been thinking specifically about his dream of reconciliation: "I have a dream that one day. . . little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers."
In this ‘southern’ city with its profound history of racial discord, prejudice, and injustice (and only more recently some halting movements towards reconciliation) King’s life and message are particularly germane.
Within our community at City Church I find a desire for greater diversity and for real and meaningful reconciliation. And yet I can’t but think that such corporate reconciliation is only born from our personal reconciliation, from white individuals pursuing meaningful friendship with black individuals.
The Bible is a book, too, that bears witness to the possibilities of reconciliation. The early church was marked by division as fractious as the racial divisions in this country. These were divisions along culture, religion, and ethnicity between the Jews and the Gentiles. But the writers of the New Testament saw in Jesus Christ, the answer to discord, hatred, and disunity.
Paul writes in Ephesians: "For himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility." It is Jesus who does the great work of reconciliation, first reconciling humankind to God and then making peace among all people.
As we look this day to Martin Luther King, Jr. and what he did to bring about racial reconciliation, let us also look to King’s Savior, and our Savior—Jesus—and what he did to bring about our reconciliation to God and to one another.