56 Years After MLK's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail"
I was moved to tears once again this morning on my annual reading of Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham jail. It is a summary document on the reason OKC needs Sallt to be a ferocious prophetic movement. Here is a small, especially poignant section:
There was a time when the church was very powerful--in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being "disturbers of the peace" and "outside agitators."' But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were "a colony of heaven," called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be "astronomically intimidated." By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church's silent--and often even vocal--sanction of things as they are.
But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.
As long as a disproportionate amount of suffering falls on the shoulders of any people-group our city can’t thrive. Until the Kingdom has manifest to all it is manifest to none. As long as the poorest performing schools are all representative of one racial community - as well as a disproportionate amount of economic bondage, incarceration, lack of access to public transportation, rates of heart disease and diabetes, access to capital….
Dr. King came to Birmingham because Christians had become the defenders of the status quo. He came to help brothers and sisters see through the fog of comfort to be awakened to the urgency of freedom. I pray the Spirit continues to give us the grace to see what Jesus sees as he weeps over cities - and the courage to speak and act on that revelation.