Martin Luther King And Racial Divide

Martin_Luther_King,_Jr_.svgIn my community dominated by Hispanic Americans, I’m an ethnic minority. Perhaps that’s made me sensitive to the plight of Hispanics in America, especially with immigration reform having become such a hotbed issue.

Young Hispanic males are just as apt to be stopped by police and viewed with suspicion as African-Americans. The Oscar nominations that everyone complained about being so white, didn’t seem to have any Hispanic actors to consider!

The point is, while so much of the focus in the press here in the US has been about confrontations between police in Ferguson and New York with African Americans, the racial divide is much more complicated. Then too, it’s probably more accurate to call it splintered than divided.

Yesterday, my pastor pointed out as part of his sermon, passages in the New Testament that had radical overtones in first century Judea. When instructing the Church, the apostle Paul undercut the splinters and the divides separating people along racial, ethnic, gender, or economic lines. There is no Jew or Greek, he said, no slave or freeman, no male or female.

Obviously the Church had a wide variety of people, Jewish and non-Jewish, husbands and wives, rich and poor, so what was Paul going on about? He explains in his letter to the churches in the region of Galatia that believers in Jesus Christ experience a oneness, no matter what our outer circumstances might be:

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 3:26-28)

Christians are family. There isn’t going to be the Japanese church and the Irish church and the Russian church and the Brazilian church in heaven. We won’t congregate around the throne of God, situated according to our skin color. In fact, we won’t be ostracized by our language either.

Revelation tells us that no language or people group will be excluded:

“You [Jesus Christ] were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

“You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” (Rev. 5:9b-10)

Peter reinforced this Christian identity:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY. (1 Peter 2:9-10).

I don’t see a racial divide there. Or a fractured family. Not in the hereafter, certainly, but not in the now either. John wrote emphatically that no one could say he loves God but hates his “brother”—another person belonging to Christ.

James called out those who were treating the rich in special ways and ignoring the poor or pushing them off to the side. His words were very much intended for instruction to Christians in the here and now.

All this to say, the Reverend Martin Luther King spoke of his hopes for America, and he led peaceful protest intending to draw attention to the changes that needed to be made. Today we commemorate him for the courageous steps he took—ones that cost him his life.

But in reality, the Church should already have been blind to the color of our skin, the differences in our ethnicity and our finances and our education. And whatever changes still need to be made should be made in the Church. Now.

How can we expect to spend eternity with people we don’t even want to sit next to in church?

Prejudice in the Church should be the greatest oxymoron imagined.

The watching world should look at the Church and see how we love one another.

How can those Jews and Arabs get along like that, they should be asking. How can those African-American and those Asian believers help each other and go to those Bible studies together? How can rich people and poor people find so much in common?

The answer ought to be this: we are simply mirroring the actions of our Savior who loved indiscriminately, who made provision to win the nations, who declared His work at the cross to be all-encompassing—in fact, for the world.

God’s plans were always for His people to represent Him on earth: Adam, Israel, Christ, the Church. As cliche as it has become, today we are His hands and feet.

Which leaves no place for racial fractures or divides.

Good Fiction vs. Popular Fiction

Are good fiction and popular fiction mutually exclusive? It seems those in the movie business are coming to that conclusion when it comes to nominating films for the Oscars. Though I didn’t see the movie, I’ve heard the Dark Knight succeeded on many levels, not the least being artistic achievement, yet it was clearly a popular film. So how did the movie industry treat it when they put together the Oscar nominations? One mention. One.

Understand, I am not advocating for the Dark Knight. Rather, I am making an observation which may or may not be true. It seems to me that fewer and fewer Big Box Office successes earn awards. Years ago, this was not the case. My Fair Lady was a financial success while at the same time receiving recognition from the movie industry as one of the best. So too, The Sound of Music, The Graduate, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, and a host of other earlier-era films.

Interestingly, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King also fell into that both-and category, but that seems more like the exception that proves the point, because the trend appears to be toward creating vapid blockbusters that come out in the summer and artsy (and ofter R-rated) movies that come out in December and win Oscar nominations.


Some might argue that the public wants it so. The common man is too devoid of artistic sensitivity to appreciate quality.

But what about Lord of the Rings?

Personally I think the public is much more astute than film makers give us credit for. Unfortunately I think publishers might think the film makers have it right.

Sure, sometimes it’s nice to enjoy an easy read, but do the serious books always have to be inaccessible to the person who wants an entertaining story? The best books, to me, are the ones I came to for entertainment and found something thought-provoking as well.

But of late, it appears the Serious Book must be about angst or despair or doubt, which seems to automatically chase away the reader who wants to sit down on a Sunday afternoon with an enjoyable story—except, of course, those who like to wade through angst, despair, and doubt! 😮

Published in: on December 15, 2008 at 5:20 pm  Comments (8)  
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