We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. King in his letters from a Birmingham Jail writes to his fellow clergymen, “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. . .But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.”
What I have always loved about Dr. King is his passion for unity and commitment to bringing about that unity through love. I belive this passage is written not out of anger or disgust, though I am certain those emotions were present, but out of true affection for the church and what she is called to be; a unified body striving to reconcile the world to God while reconciling humankind to one another. I read these words and am saddened that some 47 years after Dr. King wrote them, many of our white suburban churches still look more like country clubs than the radical counter cultural early church and many who profess Christ still sit silently in the wings while their brothers and sisters are persecuted across the world and in their own city. I write these words not because of a dislike of or anger at the suburban church but out of a deep love for the Body of Christ and a grieving spirit that wants so desperately to see this broken and fragmented body unite.
Tomorrow is MLK Day and we at Embrace Richmond and some 80+ volunteers from both the suburban church and inner city communities where we serve will join hands and make Dr. King proud as we celebrate the amazing creative gifts of inner city children and the compassionate hearts of suburban youth. Perhaps it is too late for my generation to live fully into Dr. King’s vision of unity but I know without a doubt our children will lead us into that promise land. I can not wait to catch a glimpse of this vision tomorrow!
Please pray for all those serving through MLK Day celebrations across this country. May we all remember the great sacrifices of Dr. King and embrace his vision of unity and justice.