When we think of social justice, we often don’t think of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And when we think of Martin Luther King, we often don’t think about how sold out for Jesus this man was. In my first session of the day at the Justice Conference, Paul Louis Metzger played a 5 minute clip from one of Dr. King’s sermons. It was one of the most powerful things I’ve ever heard. You can listen to the entire MLK sermon here.
The topic of Metzger’s talk was on how to maintain lifestyles of justice over the long haul and not burn out. King’s words were not the sole focus of the talk, but they stood out to me the most. In his sermon, King was recalling a late night phone call he had received recently from a hateful white man who told him he was going to blow up King’s house and blow out King’s brains if he didn’t stop his civil rights actions. King was describing the emotional and psychological weight this call had on him.
I think we often assume that King was somehow superhuman. That he always was strong. That he always knew he would have a holiday named after him someday. And a road in every city named after him. We forget how many people hated him. How the deck was stacked against him. How most days, it felt like what he was doing what amounting in an utter failure. How many days he wondered if he should just quit. These are the days many ministry and justice leaders can relate to. Two quotes from King’s sermon stood out to me in a mighty way:
(After describing the powers of evil that were against him, he then described the power of God as…) “That power that can make a way out of no way”
“Sometimes I feel discouraged, then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again. There is a balm to heal the sin-sick soul.”
These words were a great reminder that anything we do of value is going to have major seasons of discouragement. This could be your marriage, your ministry, or a justice movement. There will be persecution, there will be complaints, there will be struggle, there may even be hatred toward you. The question is: who will you lean on for strength during these times?
Dr. King leaned on the Holy Spirit. Dr. King understood that at the root, the love of Jesus is the only thing powerful enough to overcome the injustices in our world, the injustices caused by the sin-sick soul. I believe as Dr. King believed and I lean on the power that can make a way out of no way. Do you?