Happy birthday to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We, as a country, duly honor him today for his life, vision, faith, work, and untimely murder. In his honor, I want to share a small part of his heart in quotes:
“I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls.”
“Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.”
“We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy to a friend.”
“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
“We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.”
“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”
“True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.”
As I spent time today doing my memory work, I realized that the theme of Dr. King’s life is well-represented in the next passage of Galatians that we’ll address. Although I just wrote a blog post this past weekend, I felt as though the timing of today’s MLK holiday was perfect for the last few verses of the third chapter of Galatians:
23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
I know it has been a while since we started this journey through Galatians so we must at this time refresh our memories regarding the purpose for Paul’s letter. Gentile believers were being convinced by the Judaizers, that in addition to Jesus, they also needed to keep the Jewish law, in order to be really saved. That faith in Jesus was good, but wasn’t quite enough. It was a starting point, but not the whole. Paul began destroying those lies with the truth of the gospel: JESUS IS ENOUGH.
Therefore, you see in this passage that we are “justified by faith” (v. 24) and we are “sons [and daughters] of God through faith” (v. 26). There is no other way for human beings to receive justification (being made positionally right with God) except through faith in Jesus Christ, his life, death, burial, and resurrection. We are saved by believing that Jesus’ perfect righteousness has been transferred to us by no merit of our own.
Additionally, as far as the background of the letter, there was a specific instance of racism cited in 2:11-16 that Paul addressed, and most certainly was indicative of other occurrences between Jewish Christians and Gentiles as well. Paul undoubtedly had this racism in mind when he wrote the words in verse 28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female…” In Christ Jesus, neither race, gender, age, position, religious background, nor any other differing category, is recognized to divide us or elevate one above the other.
We see plainly here, that the redeemed heart of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. beat in tandem with the heart of our great God of grace and justice.
In your life, have you allowed pride to creep in? Do you think that you are better than other people because they look, dress, act, think, or speak differently than you? Do you judge other churches for how they worship? Do you make fun of other denominations for how they do or do not express affection for God? Do you think that other people aren’t “as spiritual” as you since they haven’t experienced the same things that you have in your walk with Christ? Do you put expectations on others in order for them to be “good Christians” and write them off as “bad Christians” when they don’t meet them?
We constantly need to search our hearts for this pride “for [we] are all ONE in Christ Jesus.”
Happy Birthday, Pastor King. I look forward to meeting you in heaven.