Thursday, December 18, 2008


Well, I realize that my posts have been less and less frequent. Sorry about that. I haven't felt particularly inspired to share anything lately. And, of course, things have been a bit busy.

But, I'm nearly finished with The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. and I have been so moved by the life of MLK. I told my sister that it's unfortunate that we never learned more about him in school, but it's a flat out tragedy that we never studied him in the church. This is a man who lived in submission to the Holy Spirit and his life plays out like a story straight out of the New Testament.

There are so many fantastic quotes that I'd love to share. Best thing you could do is go check it out at the library (that's what I did). But, here's an excellent quote King gave less than a month before he was shot and killed:

"You know Jesus reminded us in a magnificent parable one day that a man went to hell because he didn't see the poor. His name was Dives. And there was a man by the name of Lazarus who came daily to his gate in need of the basic necessities of life and Dives didn't do anything about it. And he ended up going to hell. There is nothing in that parable which says that Dives went to hell because he was rich. Jesus never made a universal indictment against all wealth. It is true that one day a rich young ruler came to Him talking about eternal life and he advised him to sell all, but in that instance Jesus was prescribing individual surgery, not setting forth a universal diagnosis. If you will go on and read that parable in all of its dimensions and its symbolism you will remember that a conversation took place between heaven and hell. And on the other end of that long distance call between heaven and hell was Abraham in heaven talking to Dives in hell. It wasn't a millionaire in hell talking with a poor man in heaven, it was a little millionaire in hell talking with a multimillionaire in heaven. Dives didn't go to hell because he was rich. his wealth was his opportunity to bridge the gulf that separated him from his brother Lazarus. Dives went to hell becuase he allowed the means by which hi lived to outdistance the ends for which he lived. Dives went to hell because he sought to be a conscientious objector in the war against poverty.

"And I come by here to say that America too is going to hell if she doesn't use her wealth. If America does not use her vast resources of wealth to end poverty and make it possible for all of God's children to have the basic necessities of life, she too will go to hell. I will hear America through her historians, years and generations to come, saying, 'We built gigantic buildings to kiss the skies. We built gargantuan bridges to span the seas. Through our space ships we were able to carve highways through the stratosphere. Through our submarines we were able to penetrate oceanic depths.' It seems that I can hear the God of the universe saying, 'Even though you have done all of that, I was hungry and you fed me not. I was naked and you clothed me not. The children of my sons and daughters were in need of economic security and you didn't provide it for them. And so you cannot enter the kingdom of greatness.' This may well be the indictment on America." (King, Martin Luther, Jr. The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. New York, NY: Warner Books, Inc., 1998.)

King gave that speech over 40 years ago and I'm afraid we haven't learned much since then. But, I have hope. My hope is that the Church will become the Church and lead the way to ending poverty--in America and around the world. To helping people experience abundant life; to experience the good news of the kingdom of God that is available here and now. We must turn our eyes and ears beyond our suburban bubble...this heaven on earth that we've created for ourselves. We must display compassion and generosity to the hungry and sick around the corner, and around the world. The church is not the body of Christ unless it is breaking itself open and pouring itself out for them. Otherwise, what have we learned from Jesus?

We celebrate Jesus' birth next week. A lot of people need to know why this is good news for them. I pray that you and I will show them. Be a blessing. Merry Christmas.

1 comment:

pwdrd donuts said...

Great Ryan. Thanks. I will say that the "new thing" that churches are taking on these days, involves reaching out - I've not seen this playing out in so many churches before... like ever. But these days, everyone I talk to (pastors) seem to be making "outreach" or "benevolence" one of it's main ministries. I'm excited about that.