I just listened to the Rev. Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. For all of it’s rhetorical grandeur, what’s missing from the speech is an emphasis on God’s providential hand in the evil “manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.”
This line early in the speech reveals the motive of King’s dream:
“The Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.”
Here King points his audience to what they can do and ought to do to achieve justice – which he seems to define as achieving the same level of material success as whites in 1963 – rather than being content to allow God’s providential hand to tend with care those who have been injured by injustice, and with wrath those who minister injustice.
King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” is man-centered and humanistic at it’s core, calling the audience to faith in themselves rather than to faith in God “who works all things according to the counsel of His own will.”
I am not suggesting here that African-Americans – in 1963 and even today – should take “a back seat” while their rights are violated. I’m making the observation that the man of God, in a speech of this nature, ought to point people to God’s providence in their pain and not to their human potential to overcome. “Unless the Lord build the house, those who labor labor but in vain.”
I would argue that the reason racial division continues to persist in this nation 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation and five years after we elected a black man President is because God’s providence in the evil that men do has been totally ignored.
We will be “free at last” when we realize “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty,” and “if the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed,” irregardless of the evil being done to us in the moment. David was free in a cave in Adullum and in the strongholds of En Gedi while being pursued by Saul; Joseph was free in a pit and a prison; Paul was free when he laid his head on the executioner’s block; because all of them – and every other true saint of God – committed themselves to Him who judges righteously (1 Peter 2:23).
On this 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s speech, I’m thanking God for His providential hand in the evil that men do. I don’t have a dream, I have a strong consolation because I have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before me, which hope I have as an anchor of my soul – both sure and steadfast – because it is based on the reality that my Forerunner – Jesus Christ – has entered within the veil – into the very presence of God Himself – (Hebrews 6:18-20) and He calls me to follow him there on His merit – to come boldly unto the throne of grace to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
I’m not dreaming today. I have a sure and certain hope.Older postNewer post