I'm reminded again today of how many white Christians tend to grumble about setting aside a day in honor of what Martin Luther King Jr represents in the US story. And I'll make my yearly confession that when I was in my teens, I was one of them. I now look back at myself with great embarrassment.
Was I denying that African Americans have something incredible to celebrate in that they are not slaves, that they have the right to vote, that they don't have to sit in the back of the bus or go to second rate schools? It's embarrassing as a Christian even to say such things. It is doubly embarrassing as a Wesleyan, since we were founded in support of abolition.
Am I denying that Jesus would rejoice that a part of his world, created in his image, had come to a place of liberation and empowerment? Is there any question that he would rejoice with those who rejoice? How can anyone who loves their neighbor as themselves--and thus puts themselves in the shoes of an African-American living in the early 60s, not rejoice at what MLK helped come to pass? There is no ambiguity in the answer.
Am I angry that the understanding of the nation as a whole, which often can see the big picture that we can't see when we are in our own tribe, our own county, our own state, our own region, was right to force the South to give equal rights to blacks? Am I grumbling that the civil rights movement worked? Am I grumbling that Governor Wallace repented in later life of his "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" speech? It's embarrassing as a Christian even to suggest such things?
Why was I grumbling? From the standpoint of Christ, there is no answer that is not ultimately embarrassing. May the Lord help me to see myself and my assumptions!