He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. last week, we are reflecting on the qualities that made him a great leader, not only in the Civil Rights movement, but also in the faith.
In Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter From A Birmingham Jail,” he writes that there will be times for people to stand up to injustice and defend what is right. He encouraged people to practice their faith even when there would be a cost for those unpopular actions or acts of civil disobedience. King explained that there was a history in our faith for such actions. They can be seen in, “the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar because a higher moral law was involved. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks before submitting to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire.”
We Christians pray a lot for injustices to be righted, for peoples to go free and for oppression to stop. But there are causes that demand more than prayer. Micah 6:8 says we are to, “Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.” There are struggles where Christians must lead with action, not only prayer. There are wrongs in our world where the church must be a vehicle for change.
Dr. King stood up against many injustices, girded with immense amounts of prayer. He gave over 2000 speeches in his efforts. But he also marched, rallied, organized, led and walked across both literal and figurative boundary lines. His method was one of action, non-violent endeavors and love combined. He went beyond his own strength and courage with the help of the Holy Spirit. He overcame fears, weakness, and hatred. And by God’s power, he faced violence with love and non-violent action.
While we can easily be overwhelmed by the injustices and wrongs in our world, we must not become paralyzed, unable to act at all. Each of us is called to do something to bring justice, mercy and love into the world. What are you doing for your part in this? Pray deeply about it, and listen to the prompting of the Spirit. Then, “Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.”
Dear Lord, help me grow deep in agape love. Show me the places in my community where I can make a change. Guide me to recognize the limit of my powers and give me courage, strength and grace to act as needed. Help me use my freedom for good. Draw me into new spaces and guide me to share my space with others. Create in me a heart full of grace and a soul full of love for your people. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.