Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13
Early morning, April four
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride
In the name of love … What more in the name of love? – U2, In the Name of Love
I was introduced to the sermons of Dr. Martin Luther King in seminary and I still remember listening to them, being in awe of his ability to craft words and prophetically speak. I was specifically challenged through Dr. King’s sermons (and still am) to confess my own sin of prejudice and embrace Jesus’ heart for all people from all nations.
That heart is needed more than ever if we are going to be and bring “good news’ to our peninsula. In Redwood City alone, Caucasians are in the minority, making up 43% of the city, Hispanics make up 40%, Asians make up 11%, African Americans make up 3%, and other races make up 3%. I believe God’s heart is that his Church on earth would be a reflection of his Church in Heaven.
Here is what we see in heaven: After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb (Revelation 7:9).
In light of that, I believe that Dr. King’s sermon, preached at the National Cathedral a month before his assassination is extremely timely. You can read the whole sermon here, but let me sum up three applications from the sermon that reflect Jesus’ heart and are essential for us as a church if we are going to live into the vision God has given us:
- Empathize with Others’ Pain
On April 15, we will be in Mark 1 looking at Jesus healing the leper. Mark records Jesus’ emotion in verse 40 as he came on the scene: Jesus was filled with compassion … In other words, He was moved to his core at the pain this man was experiencing. Are we moved today?
Dr. King believed we need to feel the pain of the suffering and to respond like God does. In describing the poverty he saw in different parts of our country, King said he experienced depression that led to tears. He felt the pain that people face, and knew that God weeps with them, too. He asked the congregation a rhetorical question: “How can one avoid being depressed when he sees with his own eyes God’s children sleeping on the sidewalks at night?”
All of our hearts, in some way or another, have been desensitized to other people’s pain. Regardless of our opinion on the details of the events, many of us don’t feel the tears and fears of people of color. Jesus chose to feel the pain that He didn’t cause. Only when we feel others’ pain will we have the burden to share the hope of the Gospel.
- Advocate on Behalf of the Suffering
We are currently in the midst of doing this on behalf of a community on the Democratic Republic of the Congo who have to walk 6 kilometers for a water source. We are hosting a run/walk on April 28 to give voice and resources for those whose voice is silent. We do this as well on behalf of the unborn, giving voice and resources as a church for Support Circle in Redwood City to help rescue the unborn from abortion.
Being pro-life means being advocates for all lives who don’t have a voice! In this sermon, Dr. King spoke of the poverty faced by 40 million Americans in the “ghettos of the North, rural areas of the South … and in Appalachia.” He went on to describe what he witnessed in graphic and heart wrenching detail. Dr. King gave his voice on behalf of people suffering in silence and obscurity because the poor couldn’t make known their plight on their own. PCC, we must get close to the pain so we can expose it to the healing power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s why we will always be putting before you a strong encouragement to get off the hill and go to the people!
- Embrace a “Love Does” Mindset
Dr. King in this message clearly stated that our faith in Christ must lead to concrete action. Jesus’ brother James was also clear on this matter: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world (James 1:27). This is what our new series starting this Sunday is all about: Love Does!
The gospel of Jesus comforts those who suffer oppression (see Luke 4:18-19). As the good news of salvation, the gospel should also be transforming PCC into a body that longs to get involved and help its suffering neighbors.
In this sermon, Dr. King announced his desire to launch the Poor People’s Campaign. Tragically, that campaign was thwarted because King was assassinated a month after the sermon was given.
Hebrews 11:4 says of Abel, “And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.” Though Dr. King was killed 50 years ago today, he still speaks, and sadly that voice is needed more today than ever.
This weekend we step into our Love Does series looking at the source of all love: God’s love for us. Soak in 1 John 4 and come eager to serve this weekend.
I love being your pastor!