Quotables from Martin Luther King Jr. (Part 3)

Martin Luther King Jr. just keeps bringing it…

  • Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”
  • “There was a time when the Church was very powerful – in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being ‘disturbers of the peace’ and ‘outside agitators.’ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were a ‘colony of heaven,’ called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be ‘astronomically intimidated.’ By their effort and example they brought and end to such ancient evils and infanticide and gladiatorial contests. Things are different now. So often the contemporary Church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an arch-defender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the Church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the Church’s silent – and often even vocal – sanction of things as they are. But the judgment of God is upon the Church as never before. If today’s Church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early Church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the Church has turned into outright disgust.”
    • The same is true of the church today… though perhaps even worse. It is possible that the church of today is viewed as even more irrelevant to the needs of the world than it was back in MLK’s day. Let’s change that!
  • “Something tells me that the ultimate test of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and moments of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge and moments of controversy.”
  • Martin Luther King Jr. faced much criticism for his outspoken opposition to the war in Vietnam. The decision to continue to speak up was sealed as he came face to face with the moment of truth. “I agonized a great deal over this whole problem. I went away for two months to do a lot of thinking…. I had a chance to reflect, to meditate, and to think. I thought about civil rights and I thought about the world situation and I thought about America. Something said to me, ‘Martin, you have got to stand up on this. No matter what it means.’ I didn’t rush into it. I didn’t just decide to do it on a moment’s notice. I had my own vacillations and I asked questions of whether on the one hand I should do it or whether I shouldn’t. As I went through this period one night I picked up an article entitled ‘The Children of Vietnam,’ and I read it. And after reading that article, I said to myself, ‘Never again will I be silent on an issue that is destroying the soul of our nation and destroying thousands and thousands of little children in Vietnam.’ I came to the conclusion that there is an existential moment in your life when you must decide to speak for yourself; nobody else can speak for you.”

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