Continuing a Legacy in Unity
Next week is Martin Luther King Jr Day; a national holiday in which the Post Office and numerous banks are closed, as well as many schools. It is a day in which we as Americans reflect, remember, and honor, what Dr. King so ardently strived and gave his life for.
Recently I was watching a documentary on Billy Graham and was moved by how closely he and Dr. King worked together to bring racial equality to America. Billy Graham was the first person to ever hold integrated crusade services in Alabama and many of the other southern states. When white pastors from local churches wrote open public letters to Graham in the local newspapers denouncing him and threatening to boycott the crusades if he continued with integration, Graham himself threw down the segregation ropes that divided whites and blacks. Graham would later be the first person to ever hold an integrated service in South Africa and was a key figure in helping end apartheid.
The Apostle Paul wrote to one of the churches he started in Ephesus in Ephesians 2:14, “For he himself (Christ) is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” Paul also wrote in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Paul faced similar obstacles in his day when he wrote these passages. In these churches some of the Jews were hostile and criticizing the Gentiles for various issues and reasons. However, Paul wrote to each of these churches, correcting them by explaining that Christ belongs to every person, all peoples, and that in Christ there is unity, regardless of race, color, economic, or ethnic background. This was the message that Dr. King and Rev. Graham preached relentlessly to the thousands in an attempt to unify rather then divide nations and people.
However, unfortunately as some have noted, Sunday mornings is still the most segregated hour in America. For all of Dr. Kings and Rev. Graham’s successful progress and accomplishments in this area, ironically, in many churches today this barrier still stands. This is incredibly unfortunate. Churches should be the model for all levels of society to replicate. Christians should be the primary example of racial, economic, and ethnic integration. Please do not misunderstand me, countless churches have made remarkable strides in this area, however, on the whole many still have a long way to go in fulfilling Dr. King, Rev. Graham, and the Apostle Paul’s goals of unity rather then division between all people, regardless of color, creed, background, bank account, criminal record, ethic, or racial background. Certainly, in Heaven there is no barriers separating or dividing people, all because of as Paul was rightly pointing out, what Christ did for us. Churches should be full of every color, creed, ethnic background, rich, poor, ex-criminals, and the elite of society, because we all enter through the same, one and only, door Jesus Christ.
It is like the little children’s song, “red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.” When God looks at us, He does not see our outward appearance, He even says so in 1 Samuel 16:7, “Man looks on the outward appearance, but I look at the heart.”