In his famously convicting and inspiring, “I Have a Dream” speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., drew from his life experience, the U.S. Constitution, and biblical theology to call this nation to racial justice.
He quotes from Amos 5:24 (one of several biblical references in this speech) reflecting God’s own heart saying, “No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until ‘justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’”
Not unlike our nation still today, the people of Israel long ago were guilty of a laundry list of sins against God: sexual immorality, apathy for the nation’s demise, violence and robbery, silencing the prophets, and making a mockery of their religion. There’s truly nothing new under the sun!
But the recurring theme throughout Amos was their corruption of justice by oppressing the poor and needy.
The throne of God sits on a foundation of justice and righteousness. Those who claim His name must share His heart for such values, especially reflected in the way we treat one another. We must learn to hate evil and love good. We must embrace the truth that every human being is made in the image of God – from the moment of conception to natural death, every color, every nation, every tongue, every tribe.
In other words, there’s no place in the heart of a Christian for racial hatred or prejudice of any kind. The cross of Christ purges sin and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.
Rather, in His strength, let us lead the way in loving one another just like Jesus did – red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight! Let’s model for the world what it looks like to treat one another with respect and honor and kindness and humility. Let’s wave the banner for righteousness and seek justice for those in need.
The dream of unity and freedom for all can be achieved, but I say only through the transforming work of Christ. Naming and blaming and shaming only hardens hearts, but the gospel of peace – through the blood of Jesus – changes hearts, breaks down every dividing wall of hostility, and reconciles us to God in one body. That’s a dream worth keeping!