Thursday, January 20, 2011

Justice Challenge

I know that many of us were challenged by Ben Cooley's call last week, that justice should be at the centre of what it means to be church, rather than just an add on to what we do (Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne - Psalm 89:4).

I'd like to challenge you all with some reading which will help us think further about what that really means. In April 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested and put in jail for 11 days in Birmingham Alabama, for taking point in a non-violent protest against racial segregation by the city government and local shops.

On the 12th April 1963 eight local white clergymen wrote a letter, titled "A Call for Unity", which was published in a local newspaper criticising Martin Luther King and the protests. You can read their letter here - I'd encourage you to click on the link and read it as I think their attitude of "wait and hopefully it will get better" wouldn't be out of place in many church settings today.

On the 16th April Martin Luther King wrote a response, which is just an incredibly masterly defence of his actions and the reasoning behind them (all the more incredible considering it was written whilst he was still in jail). You can read it here. Please take time to read it slowly and thoughtfully and follow his train of thought. Some of the quotes which really grabbed me:

We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?

I have watched many churches commit themselves to a completely other worldly religion which makes a strange, unBiblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular.

 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 morals of society. 

We are called to love God not just with our heart, soul and strength but also with our minds. I encourage you to stretch yourself a bit, read what Martin Luther King had to write and think about what he has to say for us tackling injustice today. I'd love to hear your comments.


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