Martin Luther King: Redemption of a Nation

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:
When we look at African-American history, it is really American history, and the church plays an important role in American history.

Martin Luther King graduated with a Ph.D in Theology in 1955. He would only live for another 13 years afterward, but much was accomplished in that time in conveying the message of “The Dream.” His education and the teachings of the time he lived in were often in conflict with his understanding. While he believed that the church was an integral part of the lives of people, there were many instances where the church was silent to the affairs of the day. Throughout all of history, the lack of involvement of the church over and social issues of the day was problematic for all of society. He wanted not just blacks, but all Americans to live up to their best potential.

With King’s message, how do we build up for today? How do we overcome the areas of conflict that we may experience?

When we look at life today, we are often affected by how we grew up early in life.

  • How one sees himself
  • How he sees other people
  • How he sees God

A person who has been through a lot of difficulty may often ask about the presence of God.

  • The misuse of power and authority leads to false beliefs.
  • Accepting blame for being abused by someone else
  • Concluding that he is unimportant
  • A feeling of worthlessness
  • God is unable to help

Martin Luther King heard many church messages proclaim that God will not help those who are in need. His message was that God would be a help to those in need, but it requires each person to take a step of faith and work in cooperation with God. His message was about the redemption of a people and a nation.

Romans 3:23
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

  • The root problem to all of the hatred and violence of his time was the sin of the people
  • Only God has the answer to sin and sinful behavior
  • Sin cannot be pardoned if you cannot see the reason or capacity of understanding that you need forgiveness

When people do not see their behavior as sinful, there is no desire to change their behavior. The sinful behavior reveals a social condition in how one person treats another. People were going to church claiming to love one another and yet hating people all the same. To hate was an act of sin, and not a justification of behavior. Only God can rectify sin. Man can only be forgiven of sin when it is acknowledged before God. When you acknowledge sin, there is a repentance and godly forgiveness, which brings about a change through God’s loving correction.

A healing in the land needed to take place–beginning with the church and its people, and not through politics.

1 John 1:8-10
8 If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say, “We don’t have any sin,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

2 Chronicles 7:14
…and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.

Psalm 38:1-22
1 LORD, do not punish me in Your anger
or discipline me in Your wrath.
2 For Your arrows have sunk into me,
and Your hand has pressed down on me.

3 There is no health in my body
because of Your indignation;
there is no strength in my bones
because of my sin.
4 For my sins have flooded over my head;
they are a burden too heavy for me to bear.
5 My wounds are foul and festering
because of my foolishness.
6 I am bent over and brought low;
all day long I go around in mourning.
7 For my loins are full of burning pain,
and there is no health in my body.
8 I am faint and severely crushed;
I groan because of the anguish of my heart.

9 Lord, my every desire is known to You;
my sighing is not hidden from You.
10 My heart races, my strength leaves me,
and even the light of my eyes has faded.
11 My loved ones and friends stand back from my affliction,
and my relatives stand at a distance.
12 Those who seek my life set traps,
and those who want to harm me threaten to destroy me;
they plot treachery all day long.

13 I am like a deaf person; I do not hear.
I am like a speechless person
who does not open his mouth.
14 I am like a man who does not hear
and has no arguments in his mouth.
15 I put my hope in You, LORD;
You will answer, Lord my God.
16 For I said, “Don’t let them rejoice over me—
those who are arrogant toward me when I stumble.”
17 For I am about to fall,
and my pain is constantly with me.
18 So I confess my guilt;
I am anxious because of my sin.
19 But my enemies are vigorous and powerful;
many hate me for no reason.
20 Those who repay evil for good
attack me for pursuing good.

21 LORD, do not abandon me;
my God, do not be far from me.
22 Hurry to help me,
Lord, my Savior.

God responds to each of us not from our performance, but from our relationship with Jesus Christ. It is a relationship with a foundation of our humility as we look to Him and focus upon Him in everything that we do.

Martin Luther King believed that true justice was rooted in the kingdom of God.

Proverbs 21:15
Justice executed is a joy to the righteous
but a terror to those who practice iniquity.

Proverbs 29:4
By justice a king brings stability to a land,
but a man who demands “contributions”
demolishes it.

Luke 11:42
“But woe to you Pharisees! You give a tenth of mint, rue, and every kind of herb, and you bypass justice and love for God. These things you should have done without neglecting the others.”

Is the church neglecting justice today? Is it unwilling to step out for righteousness and only willing to be silent in spite of the moral issues that are facing its people? There are some arguments that the church was silent just before the American Civil War as it failed to address the social issues of the day. If it had done so, it could have prevented an outbreak of war.

Martin Luther King also held faith and love as being inseparable. These two elements of the gospel could not be in conflict with each other. You could not have one without the other; moreover, you cannot say you love Jesus and stand for injustice.

Job 2:9-10
9 His wife said to him, “Do you still retain your integrity? Curse God and die!”

10 “You speak as a foolish woman speaks,” he told her. “Should we accept only good from God and not adversity?” Throughout all this Job did not sin in what he said.

In the end, it is about love and loving one another. King realized that only then can a nation of people truly begin to heal and grow in Jesus Christ.

1 John 4:20-21
20 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother he has seen cannot love the God he has not seen. 21 And we have this command from Him: The one who loves God must also love his brother.

Matthew 22:34-40
34 When the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they came together. 35 And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test Him: 36 “Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?”
37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

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