Putting On The Mind Of Christ
Over the course of our American history, leaders (and their constituencies) have deemed it necessary to set aside particular days to be observed or remembered. While this practice is in no way novel to our republic, it does express its uniqueness in the ideas and people we have decided to celebrate. Within the church, it is never our desire to deify person or deed outside of the person and work of Christ as the manifested representative of the Triune God. In taking a look at Holidays at SBC, it is instead our hope that we might ask the question, How might we observe today with, as Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 2:16, “the mind of Christ?”
It is with this hope that we will begin a series of articles we are cleverly calling Holidays, where we will look at Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Juneteenth, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, and Thanksgiving. This is in no way an exhaustive list of holidays observed, nor is it intended to give any preference to a given narrative or person. Instead, we are simply going to use these days as a framework to explore places we might see echoes of God’s plan and provision during these natural days of rest or reflection.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day
I have on my bookshelf a small section of works dedicated to memorializing important historic documents and speeches throughout our history. This limited collection includes what is considered by many to be one of the most important catalysts within the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail. It has always been fascinating that this, an incredibly important piece of cultural and social progress, is on its face, a letter from a pastor to other pastors. It outlines, among other things, a gentle admonition for the church’s failures in view of great oppression and an encouragement to her to stand up in love to overcome that oppression. How interesting on this upcoming Monday that our society, often criticized as being secular and indulgent, will set aside time to honor a man of God who reasoned, convinced, and encouraged using the words of Jesus, Paul the Apostle, and many of the early fathers and prominent theologians within the church.
I first read Letter in high school and have come back to it from time to time to remind myself of the great struggles many have overcome and the many more that remain. Each time I do, I am struck by the commitment of our brother, Dr. King, to reflect on the world around him in full view of the Word of God and the historic teachings of great theological thinkers. It is revealing to me how often he chooses not to set up thoughts or ideas with the words “I think” or “I feel” (phrases that, given his own training and experiences, could carry a great deal of their own weight), but he instead defers so often to a biblical view of the challenges he faces and the vast possibility of their solutions. On the other hand, God’s Word is not merely a memorization or recitation of ideas or facts to him. Instead, it is alive and informing both thought and action.
In an age where information is ubiquitous and all of it is jockeying for position in my heart and mind, how easily I can forget that there is an ancient and lasting source of truth that tells the story of God’s redemptive plan. There are days when I feel that I have lost the sacred art of going to God’s Word and asking His indwelling Spirit to reveal to me what He thinks of the matter-at-hand. Instead, I go to my layman’s understanding of a Constitution or a Declaration (both masterpieces of language, thought, and nation-building, but neither divinely inspired) or to the opinion of a given leader or news source. Might I be reminded that my only way through the darkness is by following the “lamp unto my feet.”
In view of OPPRESSION, might I turn to Psalm 146:7.
In view of INJUSTICE, might I remember the words of Isaiah 1:17.
When I forget who to LOVE, would the great commandment of Matthew 22:36-40 echo in my mind.
Considering this biblical view of the ideals for which Dr. King stood, and as we arrive together next Monday on this Holiday, would you consider one of the following practices as an exercise to invite the Holy Spirit to give us all minds of Christ?
- Take a moment to thank God for the glimpses of His holy light we see when our brothers and sisters in Christ stand courageously in opposition to the darkness of injustice in our world.
- Take a few minutes to read a Letter from Birmingham Jail and commit yourself to weep (at least in your heart) with those who weep tears (Romans 12:15) of oppression faced then and now.
- Join your pastoral team as we pray this simple prayer in light of the injustices faced in our fallen world:
Lord, Great is Your love and perfect is Your justice. Illuminate in my sight all that which stands in opposition of Your immense goodness. Forgive me for the times I have perpetuated injustice and forgive me still for the times where I have been silently complicit. Help me to find within myself the strength to stand against it and the gentleness to oppose my enemies in love. Help me to be a minister of Your gospel and bring about from my lips and my actions messages of hope, care, and love that drip like sweet honey from the heavenly places. Your will be done. Amen.
PASTOR OF WORSHIP AND CREATIVE ARTS