For my Critical Thinking and Writing class, we’ve been studying the documents circulated during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. We’ve read speeches by Malcolm X (Malcolm Little) and speeches and letters by Martin Luther King Jr.; we’ve read letters by James Baldwin, and through reading these I’ve realized just how crazy this must’ve seemed, not only to black people at the time, but also white people.
For centuries, black people had served as the minority and white people had inherited the prejudiced idea that they are superior. While I agree that all men are equal before God and should therefore be equal before the government, I think about how this movement, this passionate drive for integration must’ve made white people feel like the world was coming to an end. The status quo was being disrupted and it’s possible some people questioned what reality was anymore.
I was reading and annotating My Dungeon Shook by James Baldwin and Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr. As I read these, I noticed how these two men played off of the idea that, even though the odds were stacked against them and even though the people they were going up against were unmerciful and unloving, this war would be won by love. In My Dungeon Shook, which is a letter to James Baldwin’s nephew, he says “The really terrible thing, old buddy, is that you must accept them. And I mean that very seriously. You must accept them and accept them with love.” In other words, while their adversaries were persecuting them and showing them no remorse, the change had to happen in how black people saw white people, not as oppressors (though they were) but as brothers who are “trapped in a history they don’t understand.”
While it’s obvious that Christians are not trapped in a history they don’t understand, we are trapped in a place where all we can do is accept people; we may definitely not agree with them, but we must accept them and accept them with love, because that’s what God did for you when you were crying at His feet. Reading these letters and speeches made me wonder what’s going to happen…it made me think about the future and what the Bible says about it. It’s kind of intimidating and frightening, and I’m beginning to wonder, if someone put a gun to my head, if I would have the courage to claim Christ as my savior, even though the gun holder would shoot me if I did.
I know that’s kind of dark, but it’s already happening around the world as you read this. Christians are constantly being murdered, tortured, hunted, and abused for their faith. When I think about this, I realize my situation isn’t as difficult as theirs, though that of course doesn’t mean my battle is any less important. How do they forgive their enemies when they’ve done bodily harm to them? How do they survive? I guess that’s a glimpse of just how strong God is…
I’m not entirely sure how bad it’s going to get before the Rapture how happens, how dark America or how overwhelming secularism might become; I’m not sure how difficult being a Christian will reign in the future, but I do know that, no matter what happens, God will get me through it. It seems like every time I trust Him to get me through something, the next thing that comes is a little bit easier to give to Him.
As I sit and watch homosexuality work it’s way into children’s television, as I see sex treated as much less than a sacred gift of a covenant marriage and more of a hobby or a fun thing to do, as I see people fight for themselves as they let others fall behind them, I know that things are only going to get worse and that there’s very little I can do about it.
This is where cynicism can once again discourage. If the decaying condition of the world as we know it is only going to get worse until the events of Revelation come to pass, then what’s the point of hoping? Despite this mindset, there is a reason to hope. Yeah, we live in a world that’s only going to get more secular, but that doesn’t mean we give up. The goal is to bring people to Christ, not just give them a Get Out of Hell Free card, but to show them that this life, no matter how temporary or fleeting it may be, can be lived to the fullest with God. God created life. He knows how it’s supposed to be lived; He knows what’s best for His creation; He knows how to sustain life, and how to make it flourish. And this is why we hope 🙂
Something happened today that reminded me that God cares about the little things. Last night I was kind of nervous about having to go to Higgins Hall and interview people I didn’t know. As I was talking to God, I thought, “how am I ever going to travel all over the place if I can’t even pluck up the courage to go to Higgins Hall and talk to a few architecture students?”
Anyway, I walked to Higgins Hall this afternoon and went up to the fifth floor, exploring, when I saw one of my dorm people (who I know and am friends with) walking down the hall, away from me. And then she turned around! She was surprised to see me but happy nonetheless. I explained to her what I was doing and she took me into her section of a large room and introduced me to six or seven architecture students. They were all very friendly and seemed genuinely happy to see me, as if I were the rare animal. I was able to ask them plenty of questions and get lots of feedback, even when I didn’t ask. They were very open and totally enjoyed themselves.
When I walked out of the building, I couldn’t help but smile to myself, knowing that I had been taken care of.
So maybe I’m less courageous than I thought, but I guess it shows how courageous God is. I know it was a little thing, talking to new people, I mean, but God cares about the little things, as He’s made evident in my life and in the lives of those around me. I can’t say I’m ready to travel the world just yet, but I know that I’ll get there 🙂
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed.” –2 Corinthians 13:5-7, ESV