Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

On the heels of January 19th, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, today is inauguration day. And some are claiming Martin Luther King's dream speech is coming to fruition today. But I have to wonder if that is the case or not today.

Don't get me wrong. Today is a historical day that I will one day tell my children about. It's a momentous occasion when any country can overcome years of prejudice and racism to elect a person from a tribe once enslaved on our own watch. Today, I must say "I am proud to be an American," despite the greater allegiance I have to the kingdom of God.

Technology is amazing today. I'm able to watch CNN's live stream on my computer while watching the Facebook comments of my friends on the right side of the page. It's something would have been inconceivable only four years ago.

And I must say that I'm concerned. Not concerned about the direction of this nation today, like many of my friends on Facebook. I'm concerned about the civility of the comments of Christians about this moment. As Christians, our words are always to be seeded with salt and light. We are people who give comfort in times of distress and encouragement in times of grief. No matter the flavor of our politics, as Christians, we are called to speak words of grace and peace rather than words of hate and dissention. In fact, speech of this kind is unchristian and unbefitting of anyone who claims the name of Jesus Christ. And when our kids are spewing hate on Facebook, it is telling because they are learning this hateful speech from somewhere. And I'm afraid all too often they repeat the words they hear from their parents.

As Christians, who pledge their allegiance first to the kingdom of God, our call is to submit to the governing authorities (Rom.13:1-5) as long as they do not conflict with our calling as citizens of the kingdom of God (Acts 5:29) and to pray for our leaders and seek to live at peace (1 Tim. 2:1-3) as much as possible so that we can go on as citizens of the kingdom of God.

Now, back to our focus on Dr. King's speech and how today is the fruition of his dream. Dr. King's end goal was racial equality for all people, but for him, the possible means to that goal were few. Taking his cue from Jesus and Ghandi, Dr. King insisted that lasting justice and peace can only come through loving our enemies rather than retaliating against them. In several of his speeches, Dr. King demanded that no one participate in his rallies who harbored hatred in their hearts against their oppressors and who were not willing to commit to nonviolence regardless of the actions of those they encountered. Dr. King's dream was for freedom, but not at any cost.

And that is why I question the fruition of Dr. King's dream today. Today is a great day, but have we gained any ground on the heart of King's dream, which was exclusively about love, nonviolence and nonresistance? I'm not sure we have. And as Christians this should be our task. We are people called to live as citizens of a kingdom who refuse to engage in violence, hatred, and dissention.

I'm still after King's dream because it is Jesus' dream. The kingdom of God is expanding. I'm praying for our President today. I'm praying that he will receive wisdom from God. But more than that I'm praying that God will bring his kingdom and that he will reign over all nations and kingdoms today. Amen!