Martin Luther King Jr
Martin Luther King Jr was an American civil rights leader and a Baptist minister. Dr. King is well known for his passionate speeches against racism, racial division, and injustice. His I Have a Dream speech is the one I’m most familiar with, but there is so much more to him than sermons, speeches, and civil rights rallies.
Martin Luther King Jr was a man of strong convictions, unrelenting courage, and he was a man of peace. Dr. King knew how to use his words wisely to articulate his beliefs and his convictions. He did that masterfully and without causing strife, hatred, or division, and without invoking entitlement.
Though if you were a nominal Christian during his day, white, black, or other, his words would have most likely either compelled you to action or they would have convicted you of your lack of faith and Christ-like love.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
But if all you think about when you remember this great leader is civil rights and I Have a Dream, then you’re missing out on one of the greatest Christian men in American history. Dr. King’s extensive knowledge and use of God’s Word quite honestly reminds me sometimes of theologians like Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Especially when he said things like,
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Martin Luther King Jr and the Bible
When you look at any of Dr. King’s speeches or sermons, you’re going to find a man whose words were not guided solely by civil justice, but by the Word of God.
And Dr. King didn’t just deliver sermons and give speeches about civil rights and the rampant racism of his day. He lived out his life as an example of Christ’s command to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
And he walked his talk because he spoke and lived his words:
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
People around Dr. King noted that while he opposed those who hated him, he never lost respect for them. Martin Luther King Jr was taken far too soon from this world, but his contributions will serve many lifetimes.
What the Bible Says About Racism
As far as the fight against racial injustice has progressed, it would be a complete disservice to Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy to not acknowledge that there is still work to be done. I won’t turn a blind eye to the fact that racial tensions have deteriorated. I won’t pretend to have all of the understanding or all of the answers to the issue, but I do know that there is still a problem.
That problem doesn’t exist only outside the church, either. And just like any problem, I turn to God’s Word to find direction.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to you, but the most obvious thing the Bible says about racism is that there is actually only one race: the human race.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27
The truth is that racism is a man made thing that one ethnicity of the human race uses to oppose another. But that doesn’t mean the Bible is silent about the sinful attitude that results in racism. Here’s 10 verses where God’s Word speaks against the sin of racism. I’ve added emphasis to each key point.
1. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
2. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
3. “For God shows no partiality.” Romans 2:11
4. “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 12:13
5. “So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” Acts 10:34-35
6. “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” John 7:24
7. “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7b
8. “And he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.” Acts 15:9
9. “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.” James 2:8
10. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34