MLK Jr. is one of my heroes.
My family is from Montgomery Alabama. I was there last week. Both of my daughters are part African American.
Here is a sermon I preached a few months ago on “Anger and Racial Reconciliation” from Ephesians.
In my book Church Zero, I talk about anger as a catalyst for justice and righteousness in the civil rights movement.
Here is an excerpt:
“Call it Anger.
Call it angst.
Call it Frustration.
Call it whatever you want.
Every revolution begins with the build up of frustration in an individual that bursts apart like a dam, flooding the world with radical action.
Rosa Parks. For her whole life, Rosa Parks had been sitting in the back of a segregated public bus. But on Thursday, December 1st, 1955 in downtown Montgomery, Alabama, tired and exhausted after a hard day working at the Montgomery Fair department store, something happened on the Cleveland Avenue bus.
She got angry.
She’d had enough.
And the dam burst.
The anger, frustration, and angst of black Americans like Martin Luther King Jr. broke into peaceful demonstrations in the form of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Although peaceful, the powerful revolution of unstoppable force was underway in America.
The list of people goes on: Judas Maccabeus, George Washington, Martin Luther, Ghandi. All of them were propelled into action by the build up of a fire in their bones for libertation, justice, or truth.
Powerful stuff anger…a God given emotion that has a reason. It’s a motivator…a catalyst. I learned years ago that if I’m not angry enough about something, I usually do nothing. I don’t fill out that customer complaint form or write corporate headquarters. I won’t write my congressman, or protest at the polls.
Simply put, without anger…I do nothing.
Over the past few years, as I’ve coached church planters, I’ve noticed that they all have this one thing in common. In assessing their calling, I usually ask them what the chief thing that they’re feeling is. Almost all of them answer, “I’m feeling frustrated”.
I don’t mean a sour, churlish kind of frustration that causes them to backbite and murmur against leadership.
I mean a holy frustration.
Like caged animal, they can’t wait to be let loose upon a lost world with the gospel. They were made to be flung far and wide, and like a catapult, the more you hold them back, the tauter the tension cable gets, until the force is so great, that like a bull out of the gates, they are a force to be reckoned with in the realm of the Spirit.
Paul had it. Think about it. Here was a guy who’d trained for ministry at the feet of the finest his entire life, only to have his ambitions dashed by Jesus. Back to Tarsus…back to tent making… back to obscurity. For twelve plus years Paul sits plying his family trade, mumbling, “I coulda been somebody Johnny…I coulda been a contenda”. And as he sat stitching skins together, the fire in his bones smoldered. Year by year, Paul’s passion for the revelation of the gospel grew with the pressure of a geyser as predictable as Old Faithful. When Barnabus’s fist rapped at his door years later, Paul never slowed down, never looked back, and never quit. Like the energizer bunny, he wore out young men and ate hirelings for breakfast. The only way for God to slow him down enough to get him to write Bible books was to lock him up. The only way to get him to stop was to decapitate him like a chicken, and he’d still run around for a couple of minutes if he could.
Whitefield had this holy frustration. Not content to confine the gospel within the four walls of the church, he literally took it to the streets, fields, coal mines, and frontiers of America, exclaiming, “All the world is my pulpit!”.
Take William Carey. He doesn’t seem too dangerous at first glance. A shoe cobbler by trade, part-time teacher by occupation. He hammered the soles of shoes absent-mindedly while gazing up at the map on his wall, allowing his mind to wander into a recurring day-dream that one day he would sail to foreign lands to bring the hope of the cross to exotic peoples. He launched out in the days where you shipped your possessions in a 6ft. pine box, because most likely, that’s how you were coming home… in a coffin. Embarking to India, he translated the scripture into numerous languages, leading scores to Christ, church planting and opening the flood-gates for future missionaries. Not only that, he tirelessly reproduced himself in the native population to which he was called.
Hailed as the Father of Modern Missions, it all started the day that another “missions” meeting was ending in inactivity. “Is that it then?”, he asked. “So we’re just going to do nothing again?”. The millions perishing in India and China so burdened his heart that it frustrated him to see so little was being done for so many. He withstood a berating from a superior clergyman, “Sit down young man! If a sovereign God wants to convert the heathen, he doesn’t need YOU to do it”.
That day, frustration turned to anger…
And in the providence of God, something popped…
There are millions going to hell, and statistical evidence points to the numbers increasing with every passing year.
I pray you’d be angry enough to do something about it.”
(Excerpt from Church Zero – David C. Cook Publishers, 2013).
Happy MLK-JR Day.