This week marked the 50th anniversary of March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where an estimated quarter of a million people gathered in the nation’s capital to raise their voices for in support of a strong Civil Rights legislation that would greatly reduce segregation and mistreatment for African Americans.
When one thinks of this impactful event, the first thing that comes to mind is Martin Luther King Jr, the fearless leader for Civil Rights. Standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial, a monument commemorating one of America’s influential presidents who helped eliminate slavery in America, King delivered the historic speech, “I Have a Dream”. He noted in the opening statements that what was taking place on that August day was the “greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation”.
Deep passion permeated every word spoken by King as he described his vision of a nation where one was not judged based off the color of their skin. “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” Pursuing the goal of Godly equality characterized the life of King and many others as they fought for a better future for their children and grandchildren. The Civil Rights leaders understood that a person should not be treated differently by their appearance, by their skin color, or by their economic status. Instead, King advocated for the day when his children would one day live in nation where they would not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.
King was renowned for his efforts to ensure that men and women were regarded as equal. He understood that God calls for mankind to treat one another with respect and love, because all are created in His image. Although the African American community was met with animosity, King gently reminded the nation that, “darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Retaliation with bitterness to such hardship would have been expected and was the reaction of some. However King understood that the only thing he could change was himself and his reaction. He once stated that he had decided to stick with love, because hate was too great a burden to bear.
Even though our nation isn’t currently fighting for legalized racial equality, there are still many issues that a Christian’s heart should be broken over. The fact that 40 years ago, America legalized the killing of more than 55 million babies under Roe v. Wade. The fact that gay couples can freely be with whomever they choose. The fact that immorality is rampant and celebrated in the media.
The list could go on and on. Even though American Christians find themselves in the middle of a nation that does not honor the Lord, there is still hope. In Matthew 5:43-44 Christ gives this charge, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” The Lord understood that our flesh’s first reaction is to hate our enemies. However, He calls us to something higher – to love and pray for one another. It is not always easy to love like Christ loves, but as Christians we have the Holy Spirit living in us to sanctify us.
In light of the anniversary and celebration of the achievements of Martin Luther King Jr and others, be thankful to the Lord that much has been accomplished in America to honor Him in the nation’s past, be prayerful over the nation’s current leaders, be mindful that there is still work to be done, be active in making your voice heard and be loving towards others.