As Christians, we must identify and stand against injustice. Throughout the Bible, scripture tells us that we are to love our neighbors. Speaking out when we see wrong being done to someone else is showing love. The Ten Commandment can be broken down into two categories of instruction: four commandments instruct us to love God and the other six commandments instruct us to love our neighbors. When those that we love hurt, we hurt. If we are striving to true “Christ-like” Christians we are to show love to everyone, even our enemies. The bible did not separate these instructions by race, economic status, or religion.
It is the responsibility of the Christian to stand with those that are being oppressed, we don’t get to pick or choose. 1 John 4, asks how a man can love God and hate his brother. It is not possible to truly love God with all our heart, mind, and soul as Mark 12 speaks of if we don’t love our neighbor. Injustices are often looked over when it doesn’t affect us, someone we love or know. But is that the way that Christ would have us be? Definitely not. The scriptures didn’t specify or categorize who should or shouldn’t receive love. Jesus died for us all, that we may be saved. Our love and compassion should mirror that of Christ.
In his letter from the Birmingham jail, Dr. King referenced how Christians have been prosecuted for their religious freedoms (Loritts, 2014). They also suffered for taking a stand for the things that they believed in. Love is a virtue that we as Christians are to possess. Love for our brothers and sisters should be the driving force to break the silence of injustices inflicted on the oppressed in this country. It is the responsibility of the church to start uncomfortable conversations about the injustices and prejudices that are inflicted on minority communities.
Letters To A Birmingham Jail
In Dr. Martin Luther King’s letter written in the Birmingham jail, he voiced his disappointments about the injustice that plagued Birmingham, Alabama. Still, the most heartbreaking disappointment came from the clergy (Loritts, 2014). The Jewish rabbi, Abraham Joshua Heschel, commented, the Birmingham policemen’s billy clubs were not the most violent enemy. The real enemy was the clergy wanting Dr. King to embrace their crusade of passive and lukewarm indifference (Loritts, 2014). Dr. King could not accept this ideology from the church. Birmingham’s city was thorough and fortified in its’ stance towards segregation, its’ hideous publicized history of brutality, its’ crudely prejudiced court system, and its high rates of unaccountable bombings of negro’s homes and churches (Loritts, 2014). King was dismayed by the clergy viewing him as an extremist but later reviewed it as an honor. King’s letter directed the clergy to follow: Jesus, not self, love not to hate, and the sacrificial church, not the pious social groups (Loritts, 2014). In the eyes of Dr. King, he referred to Jesus, Moses, Amos, and Paul as extremists who no longer ignored the wrong and were willing to sacrifice comfortability to change the status quo (Loritts, 2014).
Dr. King’s history, leadership and legacy mimic volumes of the passage of Romans 8:18 (English Standard Version Bible, 2001) “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Dr. King weighed the cost of his destiny, and humanity became better for his sacrifice.