This Sunday I preached on one of the topics that is closest to my heart, and what I believe is core to the gospel of Jesus: That the church exist for the sake of the world. In all honesty, I’ve always had a bit of an activist edge to me, though I do find it inappropriate to try and tell me congregation what activities and causes they should dive into. I think this is the work of the Spirit. At the same time, I want Christians everywhere to know, in the words of Jim Wallis, that spirituality is personal but never private. Our relationship with Christ should have a public face and Christians should be the first ones speaking out against injustice, and seeking healing and hope for the poor and broken-hearted.
This quote didn’t make the cut for Sunday’s sermons (I had two quotes already, and I choose to have the Bible speak more than the wisdom of even the wisest men and women). It’s from Martin Luther King Jr’s Letter From A Birmingham Jail.
“More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”
Just a quick footnote: King wrote this lengthy letter while in jail. He wrote in the margins of newspaper that he had been given and had no access to books or any kind of reference. In the letter he quotes Scripture, as well as drawing from the works and imaginations of theologians like Friedrich Schlieirmacher and thinkers like Martin Buber — all from memory. This letter is truly one of the best literary pieces of our or any time.