Posted on 17 January 2014.
Pastor Mary Ivanov
Cedar Springs United Methodist Church
140 S. Main St.
Cedar Springs, MI 49319
Each year when we remember Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968), I’m amazed at the work he did as a servant of Jesus Christ. In just 39 years, his prophetic voice and tireless work for justice for all left a profound impact on our country and around the world.
He was a Christian pastor like my colleagues and me, but I cannot imagine what it was like to lead and work for racial equality for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Rev. Dr. King is commended for his “I have a dream” speech, but he was much more than a dreamer. He was a doer. He lived his faith in Jesus Christ who came for all. He suffered for his faith. He was a prophet.
One way that I’ve heard prophets defined is that they seek to tell us where we are, tell us where God wants us to be, and they drive God’s Word in between. Rev. Dr. King’s legacy continues to draw us back to examine ourselves and our world and see where we’re still struggling to love one another as Jesus Christ loves us.
Rev. Billy Graham was a friend to Rev. Dr. King and participated in the civil rights movement. In a sermon, Rev. Graham said, “Jesus was not a white man; He was not a black man. He came from that part of the world that touches Africa and Asia and Europe. Christianity is not a white man’s religion, and don’t let anybody ever tell you that it’s white or black. Christ belongs to all people; He belongs to the whole world.” Rev. Graham’s words are powerful as we celebrate the message of Christmas: that God comes in Jesus Christ for ALL the world. In late December my family and I visited Washington, D.C. and were able to visit the memorial dedicated to Rev. Dr. King. It is a beautiful space surrounded by many of Dr. King’s quotes. One of the poignant for me is, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
Throughout the Old Testament, we find “justice” and “righteousness” paired together, in the Psalms and throughout the Prophets. And Amos is no exception. We are called to be people who seek to be righteous (to have right aim before God) and who seek justice (which is concern for the poor and oppressed). The two are tied together.
Early in Amos, chapter 5, God speaks to the people:
“Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts.”
It’s no surprise that Jesus’ words to the people call us to be righteous and just. In the same spirit of the prophets, he calls us to “seek first the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness…”
There are times when we stray from God’s way, and we are constantly called back to faithfulness. The struggle for righteous living is real along with the work of seeking justice. Each day, we’re called to love and serve God, to live as children of God, as we work to bring even a glimpse of the Kingdom of God right now.
How are you working for God’s Kingdom? Where do you see it clearly?
If you don’t have a church home or have been away for a while, consider getting back to church or trying it out for the first time. I invite you to worship with us at 9:00 a.m. & 11:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings. We share the love and hope of Jesus Christ!