Lord, teach us to bring to justice and to love mercy. May we ever walk in humility before You. (Micah 6:8)
It’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Today I am humbled, awestruck, and profoundly grateful for the leaders God has appointed throughout history to defy oppression and injustice, and to boldly proclaim what GOD ordained: all men and women are created equally. We are all knit together in His very image, all filled with His very breath of life (Genesis 1:27, Psalm 139:14).
It is the mighty justice and tender compassion of the Father to defend the vulnerable and the weak (Psalm 82).
It is the unfathomable patience and fierce mercy of the Father to wait for oppressors to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), to wait for violence and wickedness to reach the critical point for complete purging (Genesis 15:16)… and to chastise especially His own as a call to repentance (Ezekial 33:11).
Most of our readers have not endured living in a society that at large reproaches their very existence. Most of us have not felt what it is to be disallowed basic human rights because of who we are: where we come from, what we look like, who our ancestors are, what our economic, educational, or social status is. It is antithetical to the American dream, even as we see domains in our modern society where real inequality still exists.
Consider for a moment that racism is still occurring (the national news has told the story loud and clear these past couple of years, and God help the church be the quickest to repent and most devoted to bringing justice according to the ways of Jesus). We are arguably most responsible for acting and advocating for justice in our own communities, but some of us are also quite clearly called to respond to it on larger scales through leadership positions in society (Amos 5:15).
We must also be keenly attuned to the voiceless (Proverbs 31:8). We routinely hear the anguish and anger of peoples who speak up (some mournfully, some raucously) for themselves. But today as you read your email over coffee, Tigrayan families in Ethiopia, Uyghurs in China, non-Hindus in India, and many other people groups are being systematically driven from their homes and murdered. Genocide is happening today. Corruption pervasive throughout Central and South America has driven millions from their homes; many of them huddle at the southern border of the USA. Worldwide almost one third of all new lives end in induced abortion rather than the freedom to draw a first breath and be welcomed into warm arms.
Currently, over 340 million of your brothers and sisters in Christ are facing high levels of persecution and discrimination because they recognize Jesus as Lord. It has cost them their families, jobs, reputations, homes, places of worship, freedom, and lives. These are our friends and colleagues. Some of them are you.
Injustice has wracked the world since Cain’s contempt murdered his brother. Jesus grew up under political oppression, economic hardship, social stigma, and religious persecution. He was despised for who He was, targeted by murderous mobs, falsely accused before insecure authorities, and sentenced to death for the sins of other. He knows. He told us it would get worse, and He walks with us through it.
Dr. King proclaimed his hopefulness the day before he died 54 years ago:
Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t really matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up on the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!