I am home today because Legacy Church observes Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with our nation. I always pause to reflect on the power of Dr. King's influence at least once on this day to remember the freedom that can come through the Good News of Jesus.
I grew up in Southeast Texas in a predominately white neighborhood, and the events of the civil rights movement flew past me on the evening news--if I watched the news.
It was not until I got into seminary and began to study the art and history of preaching did I realize the significance of Dr. King's impact on our nation as a Baptist preacher. We herald Dr. King as a leader of social justice these days, but we have forgotten he was first and foremost one who proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus and who challenged the status quo through non-violent resistance because of that Gospel.
Dr. Mervyn A. Warren of Oakwood University began his book, King Came Preaching, by quoting King. He identified himself as, "...the son of a Baptist preacher, the grandson of a Baptist preacher, and the great grandson of a Baptist preacher. The Church is my life and I have given my life to the Church." All King did in the arena of social change grew from his roots as a pastor and preacher in a local church who addressed a national injustice from that pulpit. Yes, politics, planning, organizing and effort were involved, but from what I understand all that was birthed out of a message of equality and freedom in Christ preached to a local body of believers who gathered as Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
Take some time if you have it today to remember the heritage of a Baptist pastor who lived out the Gospel he preached and changed an entire nation and its people.
And, don't forget: if you embrace that same Gospel message, you with that same message can change the world.