When times are fuzzy, focus on the truthPublished 2:51pm Wednesday, September 4, 2013
By Rev. Jonathan Yarboro
Greetings from the corner of Bridge and Bridge! Hopefully everyone reading this column is still enjoying the extra rest of a holiday weekend and not trying to cram a five-day work week into four. That isn’t what Labor Day is about anyway.
One week ago today was the 50th anniversary of a very famous and powerful statement of faith. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s most well-known speech was offered as the pinnacle word following the March on Washington. Dr. King’s words were powerful and prophetic and spoke clearly to everyone residing in our nation during a very challenging and troubling time.
Dr. King did not complain. He did not simply name a series of problems, nor did he lay blame for those problems on any particular person or group’s feet. Instead, Dr. King appealed to the common understanding available to us all because of our belonging to God. He expressed faith in the hope God has for humanity.
As the anniversary of King’s speech was recognized, I was saddened to see how many people do not feel we as a nation have made much progress. These observations defied the limits of race, creed or color. It seemed that everywhere I turned, I continued to encounter people fearful of what lies ahead for us all.
In response to these well warranted concerns, anxieties and frustrations, I found myself wondering if any real progress had actually been made. Would Dr. King think things had improved at all since first sharing his dream? Are we more or less divided as a nation than we were 50 years ago?
Answering those questions is no simple task. There are numerous responses and various contexts and perspectives have to be considered. Things are naturally different because times have changed. It will be complicated to determine if the divisions we currently are experiencing are even of the same nature as the ones surrounding the 1960s.
Once I got my head spinning with the enormity of the situation, I began to feel hopeless. I stepped away from all the rhetoric of creatures and turned to the word of the Creator. What I found helped me establish a hopeful, constructive perspective and reminded me of the foundation we all have for discerning the future, especially in challenging times.
The word of God is abundantly clear about several things, and they have application far beyond the borders of Christianity. In times of uncertainty, the people of God, which includes all people, have a tendency to embrace ways of thinking that do not agree with the fundamental truths present at creation. Remembering a few of these truths changes ones perspective, I think.
First, God does not play favorites. Humanity was created in the image of God and God calls all of creation beloved. Second, there is nothing in the word of God supporting valuing one’s own life more than the life of another. Third, God never gives any of us authority to pass judgment on others. Fourth, the only human life any of us has the power to truly change is our own. Our personal witness to our faith through the living of it is what affects change in others.
Jesus Christ, God’s example to earthly creation for how to live, provides all any of us needs. Meet the world where it is. Speak the truth in love. Pray continually for God’s guidance. Do what God calls you to do. Do not be afraid. Sounds pretty good to me. What do you think?
The Rev. Jonathan Yarboro is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Wetumpka.