I recently ran across a speech that Martin Luther King gave in March of 1965 in Selma Alabama. Here are some excerpts from that speech.
“If a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live. And if a man happens to be 36 years old, as I happen to be, some great truth stands before the door of his life-some great opportunity to stand for that which is right and that which is just. And he refuses to stand up because he wants to live a little longer, and he’s afraid his home will get bombed, or he’s afraid that he will lose his job, or he’s afraid that he will get shot, or beat down by state troopers. He may go to live on until he’s 80. He’s just as dead at 36 as he would be at 80. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.”
I find King’s remarks, convicting, provocative and unsettling to say the least! I am forced by the Holy Spirit to ask myself:
Is there something I’m willing to die for?
What’s holding me back from standing tall and firm for what I believe?
What is it that I am refusing to take a stand for?
As I write this, the Democratic convention just finished with the Republican convention slated for next week. We are living in a very polarized country right now, with multiple serious issues facing us as a nation:
- The pandemic
- Systemic racism
- Tough decisions about our children’s education
- How we should vote in the upcoming election
There is confusion and uncertainly everywhere. People are angry, stressed as never before and looking for solutions that are not easy to come by. Does anybody have the answers? Does anybody really know what to do? Does anybody have a clear sense of what’s going on? Can we really trust our leaders? Are they honest people who are telling the truth?
Sometimes (with today’s political landscape) I feel like Pilot when he asked, “What is truth” (John 18:38). I feel like asking, where is the truth? Who’s really telling the truth? Who can I trust?
Some of us are afraid to speak out for what we believe; afraid of what others might think of our position or opinion. Many people I know are fearful, confused as to what’s really happening in the United States, don’t have confidence in who they can trust or believe anymore, regardless of their political affiliation.
Back to the ML King quote. Regardless of your personal opinion about him, or how you deal with the less than perfect person he was, we can learn some things from his speech in Selma.
- He stood for what he believed was true and right
- He seemed unafraid to live out his convictions regardless of the personal cost and potential harm that could come to him
- He was even willing to lay down his life (and did) for what he believed
- He had a clear purpose and direction for his life and stuck by his convictions and principles until the day he died
- He lived what he thought was right and didn’t cave to public opinion
We need more ML King’s today. Leaders who stand for something and are willing to die for that something. We need leaders who color outside the lines, think outside the box and march to a different drum beat. We need leaders who are willing to step out and step into difficult conversations and make difficult decisions. This is especially so in local churches where many leaders are afraid of offending anyone and try to keep everybody happy; definitely a losing proposition.
“Be on guard. Stand true to what you believe. Be courageous, be strong. And everything you do must be done with love.” (1 Corinthians 16:13, 14 NLT)
“I was forty years old at the time, and Moses had sent us from Kadesh-Barnea to spy out the land of Canaan. I reported what I felt was the truth.” ~ (Joshua 14:7 The Living Bible)