Saturday, April 5, 2008

We Only Have Our Bodies: Mine Eyes Have Seen

We only have our bodies, King said, and in the end that was what brought the civil rights movement the victory it had been seeking so long. When I was in high school, the same students who cheered the news of President Kennedy’s assassination also cheered King’s televised encounters with Southern sheriffs, police dogs, and water canons. Little did we know that by doing so we were playing directly into King’s strategy. He deliberately sought out individuals like Sheriff Bull Connor and stage-managed scenes of confrontation, accepting jail, beatings, and other brutalities, because he believed a complacent nation would rally around his cause only when they saw the evil of racism manifest in its ugliest extreme…

Many Christians who still balk at seeing Martin Luther King, Jr. as God’s instrument have no problem worshiping in churches that once portrayed him as the enemy, that opposed his ideals, and that either directly or indirectly perpetuated the sin of racism he fought with his own body. We saw the mote in his eye but not the beams in our own…

Alas, by the time I tasted of that stream [of God’s own love and forgiveness], King was already dead.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land.

I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.

So I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

(From King’s last speech, in Memphis,
the night before his assassination.)

--Philip Yancey
confessions from
Soul Survivor: How My Faith Survived the Church

in which he writes of King as, now, his mentor

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