The Role of the Church in the Civil Rights Movement

REPOST from January 12, 2012:

For many, yesterday was the start of a 3-day weekend to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr, the leader of the Civil Rights movement, and those who stood against racial segregation and inequality. History is replete with men and women of faith who, in the struggle to lay hold of the eternal, broke human tradition and brought about revolutionary change.  Indeed, our own American history is testimony to that.  We cannot speak of the founding of this great nation without acknowledging the relationship between independence from Great Britain and freedom of religion.  The founding fathers understood that the very root of independence is respect for others.  Yet, the actors on the stage of human history are imperfect men who, despite their greatness, sin and “fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). Had the founding fathers acted in accord with conscience when the issue of slavery presented itself, this evil and all its ugly repercussions would have been dealt the death-blow.  Instead it spread like cancer.  Unconfessed and unrepented sin doesn’t just go away. I believe that if the founding fathers could speak today, they would confess this as their greatest failure.  Yet, the grace of God is greater and the eternal purposes of God, in the affairs of men and of nations, cannot be thwarted. God, at the frontline of every quest for freedom and justice, always has a people.

It is absolutely impossible to talk about the Civil Rights movement without acknowledging the church. Even the secularists agree. The church was the engine that powered the revolution. More than just a meeting place where strategy sessions were held, the community itself was a picture of the freedom being sought. There was unity among the members (Eph 4:3), direction from the pulpit (Tit 2:1), prayers for deliverance and protection (Phil 4:6), songs to rejoice in the God of their salvation (Eph 5:19), encouragement to persevere in the face of opposition (Heb 3:13), reminders to keep looking forward by faith to the city with foundations “whose builder and maker is God” (Heb 11:10). Men, women, and children received grace to be humble before God and bold in Christ. The church was the place where the principles of the Kingdom of God were up and running. Is it any wonder then that the church was the target of great white supremacist opposition?  More important, should it be any surprise that it was Christians, motivated by faith and Scripture, who were not only among the most ardent supporters of this movement, but who made up most of the leadership?

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is more than just another Federal holiday.  It is a time to thank God for the Civil Rights movement and the brave men, women, and children who understood that it was “for such a time as this” (Est 4:14) that they had been called. May we give glory to God for His providential hand in American history and for the members of the body who, by faith, stood for truth at great cost.

Without the guiding force of religion and more principles rooted in faith and Judeo-Christian ethics, the Civil Rights movement, and the broader freedom struggle, would not have become the cornerstone of social change in modern America.  Indeed, for the better part of a century the faith-based struggle to eradicate racial discrimination and injustice in the United States has been a major source of spiritual and more regeneration, of hope and renewal, for oppressed people across the globe. Though much work is left to be done, both at home and abroad, doing God’s work in Alabama, Mississippi, and other parts of the South through such worldly pursuits as sit-ins, freedom rides, and voter registration drives has spread the power and the glory of faith and righteousness to the end of the earth, giving a measure of hope to us all. 1

1 Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr, The Role of Religion in the Civil Rights Movement. Presented at the Faith and Progressive Policy: Proud Past, Promising Future Conference, sponsored by the Center for American Progress, June 9, 2004.

Ed Moore on Contending for the Faith

As political correctness continues to infiltrate the church, it’s worth noting there are no examples of political correctness to draw from in the Bible.  To the contrary, Scripture and church history are filled with men and women who stood for gospel purity in exceedingly adverse situations.  The Bible calls us to contend for the faith (Jude 1:3) against those who would corrupt or compromise it.  Why?  Because future generations are at stake (Galatians 2:5).  Because souls – yours, mine, and those around us are in the balance (1 Timothy 4:16). Because gospel truth, when undermined, will shipwreck your faith (1 Timothy 1:19) and destroy entire families (Titus 1:11). And finally, the message of the Cross, which is salvation through faith in Christ alone is utterly subverted when we make peace with the very falsehoods that sent Jesus to the cross.   Here’s a clip from Ed Moore, Senior Pastor at North Shore Baptist Church, on the importance of contending for the faith. If you would like to hear the sermon in its entirety, click here.

“The Gift Wrap and The Jewel”: A Poem by Wanda Goines

Not much else to add here that this beautiful woman hasn’t already captured.  Someone posted this on Facebook and I am smitten.  Meet Wanda Goines, a pilgrim on her way to Zion, going from strength to strength, till one day she appears before God (Psalms 84:7).

 

I looked in the mirror and what did I see,
but a little old lady peering back at me.
With bags and sags and wrinkles and wispy white hair
I asked my reflection, how did you get there?

You once were straight and vigorous and now you’re stooped and weak
when I tried so hard to keep you from becoming an antique.

My reflection’s eyes twinkled and she solemnly replied,
‘You’re looking at the gift wrap and not the jewel inside’
a living gem and precious of un-imagined worth,
unique and true, the real you, the only you on earth.

The years that spoil your gift wrap with other things more cruel
should purify and strengthen and polish up that jewel.

So focus your attention on the inside, not the out
on being kinder, wiser, more content and more devout.

Then, when your gift wrap is stripped away, your jewel will be set free
to radiate God’s glory, throughout eternity.

HT:  Marilynn I. (Facebook)

 

So, what’s in a name?

Merry Christmas, everyone! It’s been a quiet season here at Heavenly Springs, but I’m still here!  No worries. It’s all good.  Just the seasons of life.  Still, I couldn’t let the day go by without memorializing it. It’s Christmas, and I’ve been thinking about his name.  Were it possible, it would have been blotted out a long time ago by those who despise it.  But the name of Jesus will never be erased!  To the believer, it is the most beautiful name in the world.  It is more precious than any joy or pleasure this fleeting world has to offer. It is life itself. But what does it mean? What does it tell us about ourselves? What does it say about God?  J.C. Ryle, in his commentary on the first chapter of Matthew, tells us all that’s in his name! Today, we celebrate the birth of a Savior who came to save us from our sins.  And if that weren’t enough, his promise is that he will be with us forever!  We will never be alone! Today, I celebrate with you, and believers everywhere, that wonderful name of Jesus!  Merry Christmas!

She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” – Matthew 1:21

“The name JESUS means “Savior.” It is the same name as Joshua in the Old Testament. It is given to our Lord because “He saves His people from their sins.” This is His special office. He saves them from the guilt of sin, by washing them in His own atoning blood. He saves them from the dominion of sin, by putting in their hearts the sanctifying Spirit. He saves them from the presence of sin, when He takes them out of this world to rest with Him. He will save them from all the consequences of sin, when He shall give them a glorious body at the last day. Blessed and holy are Christ’s people! From sorrow, cross, and conflict they are not saved. But they are saved from sin for evermore. They are cleansed from guilt by Christ’s blood. They are made fit for heaven by Christ’s Spirit. This is salvation. He who cleaves to sin is not yet saved.

Jesus is a very encouraging name to heavy-laden sinners. He who is King of kings and Lord of lords might lawfully have taken some more high-sounding title. But He does not do so. The rulers of this world have often called themselves Great, Conquerors, Bold, Magnificent, and the like. The Son of God is content to call Himself Savior. The souls which desire salvation may draw near to the Father with boldness, and have access with confidence through Christ. It is His office and His delight to show mercy. “For God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him.” (John 3:17.)

Jesus is a name, which is peculiarly sweet and precious to believers. It has often done them good, when the favor of kings and princes would have been heard of with unconcern. It has given them what money cannot buy, even inward peace. It has eased their wearied consciences, and given rest to their heavy hearts. The Song of Solomon speaks the experience of many, when it says, “your name is oil poured forth.” (Cant. 1:3.) Happy is that person, who trusts not merely in vague notions of God’s mercy and goodness, but in “Jesus.”

The other name in these verses is scarcely less interesting than that just referred to. It is the name which is given to our Lord from his nature, as “God manifest in the flesh.” He is called EMMANUEL, “God with us.”

Let us take care that we have clear views of our Lord Jesus Christ’s nature and person. It is a point of the deepest importance. We should settle it firmly in our minds, that our Savior is perfect man as well as perfect God, and perfect God as well as perfect man. If we once lose sight of this great foundation truth, we may run into fearful heresies. The name Emmanuel takes in the whole mystery. Jesus is “God with us.” He had a nature like our own in all things, sin only excepted. But though Jesus was “with us” in human flesh and blood, He was at the same time very God.

We shall often find, as we read the Gospels, that our Savior could be weary, and hungry, and thirsty–could weep, and groan, and feel pain like one of ourselves. In all this we see “the man” Christ Jesus. We see the nature He took on Him, when He was born of the Virgin Mary.

But we shall also find in the same Gospels that our Savior knew men’s hearts and thoughts–that He had power over devils–that He could work the mightiest of miracles with a word–that He was ministered to by angels–that He allowed a disciple to call Him “my God,”–and that he said, “Before Abraham was I am,” and “I and my Father are one.” In all this we see “the eternal God.” We see Him “who is over all, God, blessed forever. Amen.” (Rom. 9:5.)

Would you have a strong foundation for your faith and hope? Then keep in constant view your Savior’s divinity. He in whose blood you are taught to trust is the Almighty God. All power is His in heaven and earth. None can pluck you out of His hand. If you are a true believer in Jesus, let not your heart be troubled or afraid.

Would you have sweet comfort in suffering and trial? Then keep in constant view your Savior’s humanity. He is the man Christ Jesus, who lay on the bosom of the Virgin Mary, as a little infant, and knows the heart of a man. He can be touched with the feeling of your infirmities. He has Himself experienced Satan’s temptations. He has endured hunger. He has shed tears. He has felt pain. Trust Him at all times with all your sorrows. He will not despise you. Pour out all your heart before Him in prayer, and keep nothing back. He can sympathize with His people.

Let these thoughts sink down into our minds. Let us bless God for the encouraging truths which the first chapter of the New Testament contains. It tells us of One who “saves His people from their sins.” But this is not all. It tells us that this Savior is “Emmanuel,” God Himself, and yet God with us, God manifest in human flesh like our own. This is glad tidings. This is indeed good news. Let us feed on these truths in our hearts by faith with thanksgiving.”

J.C. Ryle