MLK Weekend Musings

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions has to do with losing weight.

It’s a national obsession. Americans struggle with the embarrassment of having too much at our disposal and too little discipline to handle it.

Molly Marshall, our good friend and president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, talks about the need to reassess our values and sedentary lifestyle. The beginning of a new year offers a great time for that.

In her recent article, “Gaining Theological Heft,” Marshall recalls a conversation with a friend in the ministry who had been forced into early retirement because of chronic back pain. This man determined to include a daily exercise routine into his daily regimen. Marshall asked him to pray for her as she sought to do this. He responded in a less than sympathetic manner: “Only you can be the answer to this prayer.”

The answer wasn’t what she was looking for.

Marshall then commented on how life is about losing things and then adding things. She writes, “I am concerned that over the years, some of our tribe has been more focused on articulating what we are against than what we are for. Which is not enough.”

Baptists through the years have been good about proclaiming our positions against certain vices. On occasion, this has gained more prominence than our communicating what we are “for” as God’s people. I find this to be the conclusion of many college students who are starting out in their spiritual journey. They want to know what the church is “for” and are not greatly interested in making pronouncements and judgments.

There is a time and place for the latter, but I’ve become more convinced that effectiveness to our culture and world depends on a positive message which accentuates the Good News that Christ offers. We need to explain why it is good news, news that affects not only the spiritual needs but also the physical as well.

This Sunday is Martin Luther King weekend. It’s a time to think about our past as a nation and how far we have come in race relations, and far we have yet to go. It’s almost impossible to think about this man without his “I Have A Dream” speech. Many Americans are drawn to these words and dream, but it has not always been so.

During the 1960s, national magazines and television portrayed police dogs attacking black people in the South who had sought voting rights. Police officers were shown carrying bullwhips and beating black youth who wanted to sit at public lunch counters. The media proved to be a powerful catalyst in bringing these uncomfortable images from far away places into living rooms all across America. What the nation saw and felt changed attitudes on segregation.

We have made progress in dealing with discrimination and oppression, but there is still work to be done in this area. There are still those who struggle under the grip of poverty, homelessness, and hopelessness.

The challenge for us is to consider the impact each one of us can make to improve the lives of those around us. There is a time and a place for doing things “for us” and it seems like here lately that need has surfaced ytime and again (wait until you hear about the roof!). However, we need to be reminded that our mission exists in places and people outside the walls of the building. UHBC has a great capacity to impact our community, and has done so time and again. I want to see our church continue its involvement in our community, helping those who are poor, hungry, and in need of the compassionate message of hope that is found in Jesus Christ.

That’s my hope for a new year. It’s a prayer that only you and I can answer


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