On Monday we will honor the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., celebrating a life that brought change to America. His assassination on April 4, 1968 stirred the nation’s soul as it had not been since the Civil War. The aftermath of that assassination was supposed to begin a healing process for the tattered race relations in America – but did not. Today, nearly 53 years later those same issues King and his marches addressed are still with us. While a major confrontation in Minnesota last May led to continuing confrontations in 2020 there is evidence, via the election of an African American in Georgia to the U.S. Senate, that many of the issues are in the process of easing, but not yet totally fulfilled.
When America declared its independence from Great Britain in 1776 it was founded on the premise of two powerful and unbreakable laws. These unbreakable laws were “the Laws of Nature;” and “the Laws of Nature’s God,” I believe, Jefferson’s words for God’s “perfect laws of liberty.” They were placed in the first paragraph of America’s Declaration of Independence, purposely by Jefferson who was, many believe, inspired by the Lord. Then when Jefferson and 55 other Founders signed that document, they were creating America as a Covenant Nation – a nation, like ancient Israel, would be blessed or cursed, according to how America applied and obeyed these two laws.
Then in 1787, when 55 men sat down to craft America’s Constitution, we again see the Hand of God hovering over these special men that He raised up to craft that unique Constitution, a document intended by the Lord to restore freedom and liberty to a then-enslaved world. While these special men addressed the issue of slavery, with 10 of the 12 states favoring slavery’s elimination, two states, Georgia and South Carolina, caused its resolution to be postponed. It was left to another man raised up by God, Abraham Lincoln, to declare slavery dead. But slavery didn’t die, its ghost remained.
God would need to yet lift up another special man to kill off slavery’s ghost and remove the remains of that cancerous thorn that had plagued America and the world for so long. That special man lifted up by God would be Dr. Martin Luther King, the man who America will honor on Monday. Recently Joan and I had dinner with Dr. King’s niece Dr. Alveda King. While we discussed her uncle’s dream of bringing about equality for all we also discussed how Jefferson’s two laws found in the Declaration, “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” played powerfully in Dr. King’s dream to bring equality and justice to his people. Few American’s today even ponder the first law, the Laws of Nature, taking it for granted as a part of the world we live in. That second law, the Laws of Nature’s God, is not so obvious and few fully comprehend its importance to America becoming what Dr. King hoped would become his people’s “Promised Land.”
Dr. King’s Bible and its main character, Jesus Christ, provided Dr. King with the courage it took to face off against America’s darker side and bring to light how God’s “perfect law of liberty” was the primary motivator behind Dr. King’s efforts to remove the shackles of slavery from his people and to lead them across the River Jordan into the Lord’s Promised Land.
Looking back on Dr. King’s assassination 53 years ago brings focus to that lingering thorn still dividing America — the ghost of slavery. To pull this infesting thorn’s ghost from the flesh of America, necessary for America to fully heal and reach its full potential, required the blood of someone of Dr. King’s stature. Dr. King had had his dream and had led his people to the “River Jordan,” but like Moses, Dr. King was not allowed to cross over America’s river of injustice and inequality into the promised land of real justice and equality. While Dr. King’s movement brought about change many wonder today if that change is what Dr. King had in mind while leading his people towards the Promised Land of full liberty.
Now, nearly 53 years after King’s assassination, a day that gripped all Americans, of all races, America is better able to comprehend the depth of King’s biblical and Christian foundation, his fearless stand for justice regardless of the consequences and his contribution to America’s constitutional concepts that personal liberty is God’s gift to all mankind, regardless of race, color, political persuasion, or religious cultures or beliefs.
Enjoy your King Holiday!