Because God Stands Within the Shadows

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr 

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5:10)

Monday this nation honors the man who fought without using violent force for righteousness and justice for black Americans—and all those who love freedom. His name was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Growing up in the turbulent days of civil rights marches led by Dr. King, I did not always appreciate or sympathize with Dr. King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Yet, I later discovered that here was a man who stood upon the truth of God’s Word and the Gospel message. I now believe he was a prophet in his time who faced persecution, discouragement, failures and rejection with patience, forgiveness and hope. How will you use this opportunity to teach your grandchildren the truth about what drove Dr. King to do what he did?


The sad reality is that the true message and motivation underlying Dr. King’s leadership has been mostly lost in today’s world of relativism and political correctness. His cry for freedom demanded responsibility and moral integrity. Today’s cries for freedom see faith and religion as adversaries to freedom because they view freedom as doing whatever is right in one’s own eyes without accountability. King saw truth and Christian faith as the foundation for true freedom.

Many quote his famous I Have a Dream speech, but forget the biblical foundation upon which his work was based. A quote from Isaiah explained the focus of his dream, “the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed”. The Sermon on the Mount defined his cause and was the substance of most of his speeches. He said, “Christianity has always insisted that the cross we bear precedes the crown we wear…carry it until that very cross leaves its mark upon us and redeems us to that more excellent way which comes only through suffering.”

King told many of the students who were getting restless and wanting to retaliate in the face of such suffering:

There is something in this student movement which says to us that we shall overcome. Before the victory is won some may have to get scarred up, but we shall overcome… That is the basis for this movement, and as I like to say, there is something in this universe that justifies Carlyle in saying that no lie can live forever…behind the dim unknown, standeth God within the shadows, keeping watch above His own. [Emphasis mine](From The New Yorker, April 6, 1987)

Dr. King would insist that if there be any honor on this day established as a national holiday, it should be given to God, not a man. It was for His righteousness and justice that Dr. King stood up to expose the hatred and unconscionable injustice of racism. He had his own flaws, but one thing he did right. When others attacked with hate and violence, he did not strike back. When many of his followers called for revenge, he called for love and forgiveness. “We love men not because we like them,” he explained, “nor because their ways appeal to us, nor even because they possess some kind of divine spark. We love every man because God loves him.”

This is the message that is not being told in the press. It is, however, the message that needs to be told to the next generations. Will you honor both Dr. King and our Lord God by telling them the truth? Tell them that trust placed in anything but God matters for nothing. Confident trust in Him and His truth, whatever the personal cost, matters much. Be courageously intentional about telling this to your grandchildren. 

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