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IDEOLOGICAL REJECTION IN THE FACE OF GOODNESS

I have friends who are so ideologically opposed to civil rights leaders that they find it hard to give any praise to the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I have friends who have hated Republicans so much that no matter if Reagan or George W. Bush had done even one good thing (can you imagine it)they could not bring themselves to acknowledge it. There are those who hate the Democratic party and President Obama to such an extent that if he says something (anything) that is righteous they will find a way to interpret it as meant for evil, that there is some nefarious agenda at work behind it. During the time of Dr. King there were many among theological and political conservatives who thought he was close to Anti-Christ. The John Birch society had him pegged as a communist. J. Edgar Hoover considered him to one of the most dangerous men in America. To some degree ideology makes people idiots, they stop thinking clearly, logically, honestly. It is certainly true that there are ideological agendas, and not all of them are equal. Some ideas are just wicked, evil, and destroy people. Sincerity of belief has nothing to do with truth or soundness of thought. Yet, even among the wicked God lets himself be known. On this anniversary of the March on Washington and the famous “I have a Dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.I find it hard to accept the opinions of those who would belittle, demean, or attempt to marginalize its significance for our nation. I, like millions of others, love this speech. I love it for its American ideals, I love it for its hope and its honesty about the reality of our nation’s struggles with race. I love it for its comprehensive call to all of us as citizens. I love it for the way Dr. King delivered it and the glory it reveals of the African American church and the giftedness of the black preacher. I love it because the man who delivered it strove to implement the principles he espoused with non-violence. The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 4: 8…”Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” On this day all Americans should be grateful for one of the great moments in our history. One might say, “it is nothing but words.” True enough, but if you will consider it that is all America ever has been, words that capture ideas, hopes, beliefs, and dreams. Look what God has wrought out of those lofty hopes. We are not perfect as a nation, nor has any man been who helped it shape as such, but we have so much for which to be grateful and if your demand for perfection keeps you from seeing what is in fact good, and praiseworthy, you are truly blind. If you are one of those who just can’t seem to get past all the problems you had with Dr. King, or that you have with present day Civil Rights spokesmen, or our present black president, maybe you could just think about the words and ask yourself if they do or do not correspond with your vision of what America is supposed to be about. I think it might even be a good day for someone who was a bigot during that time to say to someone, even someone of another color, “I was wrong for what I thought.” Maybe you could even bring yourself to say, “America is better, America is greater, because of what Dr. King called us to be, and to do.” I am glad, as a preacher, that sermons do make a difference; if they are right, pure, lovely, admirable, and heeded.

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