MLK Day: Comfort or Christ?

Happy MLK day! As a person who grow up after the main thrust of the civil rights movement, I was ignorant to much of the plight of Martin Luther King Jr. and what he sacrificed for his convictions. I looked up his history and found that there were about 9 overt attempts on his life. From a stabbing, to bombings, to shootings, assassins hired by those who wanted the status quo of white supremacy tried in just about every way possible to kill King. On April 4th, 1968, they finally succeeded.

What I didn’t know is that MLK would go town after town wherever whites used violence against blacks to suppress “the uprising of equality.” MLK would bus in hundreds of people to march and to protest. King marched and held rallies so that their blood would have a voice. All those who wanted King dead knew that. In fact, some murders and some black church bombings occurred just to lure MLK to town so they could take a shot at him. King wasn’t oblivious to the threat. And his response oddly was not to pick up a weapon and defend himself, or even avoid pain or death.

Martin Luther King Jr was a celebrated author and if he had played his cards right, I’m sure he would have the ability to retire in his 30s. In fact, I’m sure the KKK would have paid for it, if it would have gotten him to shut his mouth and stop inciting people to burden the civil rights movement. But MLK had a passion to do God’s will. Death would not deter him.

This brings to mind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from Daniel 3 who were faced with a similar situation. King Nebuchadnezzar ordered the entire nation to bow down to a statue and worship it. A simple act that anyone could fake and not mean it in their heart. It was just submission to the King in many ways. But Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego took a stand. When all the rest of the world, were bowing to the statue, these three exercised civil disobedience and refused. They were arrested. They were brought before the king and asked to recant. They refused, and I love their response, “If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up. (Daniel 3:17-18)”

Two things were going on here. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had complete confidence that God could save them. Second, their hope was not in the outcome of their circumstance, but in their God.

I think a lot of us get stuck in wanting a change in circumstance as opposed to trusting God no matter the outcome. Because for those of us who have a relationship with God, we know that death isn’t the end, it is only the beginning of something far greater.

MLK knew this too. Listen to his sermon the night before he was murdered.  April 3, 1968, he shared why he wasn’t afraid to die. He had his focus not on an earthly prize, but in a heavenly one. And God rewarded him fully.

As we think on MLK, I want you to reflect and ask this question. Where do I seek comfort in circumstance over comfort in Christ?

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