Martin Luther King, Jr. recommended faith in Jesus of Nazareth as antidotes for both maladies.
"Evil can be cast out, not by man alone nor by a dictatorial God who invades our lives, but when we open the door and invite God through Christ to enter. 'Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.'
God is too courteous to break open the door, but when we open it in faith believing, a divine and human confrontation will transform our sin-ruined lives into radiant personalities" (Strength to Love, p. 126).
A relationship with God gives us the power to overcome whatever sin we may be struggling with, including the sin of racism. Racism stands not only as a barrier between people, but as an offense between us and God.
The reason Dr. King could recommend Christ as a solution to the problem of racism is Jesus' death on the cross paid the price for all of our sins. He then rose from the dead and now offers us the forgiveness of God and the power to live new lives.
Dr. King put it this way:
"Man is a sinner in need of God's forgiving grace. This is not deadening pessimism; it is Christian realism" (Strength to Love, p. 51).
Our need for Jesus is truly the great equalizer of the races. We all are sinners in need of a Savior. We all stand before God, not on the basis of one race's superiority over another, morally, culturally, financially, politically, or in any other way.
All the races of the world, all the cultures of the world, need the same Savior. His name is Jesus.
What Martin Luther King described as our need for a "divine and human confrontation" is offered at God's initiative. It requires that we place our faith in what Jesus did as our own personal payment for sin, and that we invite Him to enter our lives "when we open the door and invite God through Christ to enter."
We can give new life to "The Dream," following the path of Dr. King. Our path may not lead to martyrdom by an assassin's bullet as it did for Martin Luther King, but it does lead to dying to our selfish ways and self-sufficiency.
Such a faith is not a weak-kneed, escapist religious exercise, but a courageous pursuit of that which is ultimately good, right and true.
"In his magnanimous love, God freely offers to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Our humble and openhearted acceptance is faith. So by faith we are saved. Man filled with God and God operating through man bring unbelievable changes in our individual and social lives" (Strength to Love, p. 51).
"The Dream" starts with God as revealed through His Son, Jesus Christ. Through a relationship with Him, we can be agents of healing in a world that is sick with racial and ethnic conflict.
Won't you seriously consider placing your faith in Christ, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did? God offers us this relationship with Him, and we simply respond.
If you have surrendered to Jesus Christ, pray for a life-changing faith and a growing dependence on Him. Only He can bring into our hearts His supernatural love and the power to love others.
As God transforms our lives, we have the potential to embody that which Martin Luther King dreamed.
Charles Gilmer is president of The Impact Movement, a partner ministry with Cru, which takes the truth of Jesus Christ to the campus, the community and the world by producing leaders of African descent who are spiritually focused, financially responsible and morally fit. He has spoken on campuses across the US and in Africa on race relations, missions and the Christian faith. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and has been honored with a Doctor of Divinity degree by Carver Bible College. Charles and his wife, Rebecca, raised their 6 children in Orlando, Florida.
"Darnell J. Wilson climbed on a table and said, 'We are The Impact Movement. Who wants a free water bottle?' He started throwing bottles into the crowd. 'Surprisingly, people caught ‘em, but one person got hit in the head,' he said."
Why is it still so difficult for us to embrace and live out Dr. King's dream, even more than 45 years later?
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