Living a life worthy of Christ.
In order to put an end to the unlawful scare tactics and intimidation used to keep blacks from voting in the city of Selma, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. organizes a peaceful protest on the steps of the Selma courthouse to draw the attention of the rest of the nation. More peaceful protests are organized in Selma, this time without Dr. King. Without the civil rights leader present, the Selma Sheriff and deputies are able to break up the protestors with any means they see necessary. Men and women, young and old, are beaten mercilessly. One young man, Jimmie Lee Jackson, while defending his 86 year old father from a rage driven deputy with a billy club, is shot and killed, igniting the fight for civil rights all across Alabama.
Walk, Calling, Sacrifice, Life, Worthy
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stands behind a podium, Jimmie Lee Jackson's coffin is before him. The church is filled with hundreds of Dr. King's countrymen who have gathered for the funeral of young Jackson. Dr. King takes a deep breath and begins. “When I heard that President Kennedy had been shot and killed, and when I heard just yesterday that Malcolm X, who stood in this church just three weeks ago, had been shot and killed, I turned to my wife, Coretta, and said the same thing I often say when one of our leaders is struck down, 'Our lives are not fully lived if we're not willing to die for those we love, and for what we believe.'” A murmur of agreement ripples through the congregation. Dr. King continues, “But today, Jimmie, we're doing the living, and you've done the dying, dear brother. We will not let your sacrifice pass in vain, dear brother. We will not let it go! We will finish what you were after! We will get what you were denied! We will vote and we will put these men out of office! We will take their power! We will win what you were slaughtered for!” Cries of agreement rise throughout the people. Dr. King takes a deep breath. “We're going back to Washington. We're going to demand to see the president, and I'm going to tell him that Jimmie was murdered by an administration that spends millions of dollars every day to sacrifice life in the name of liberty in Vietnam, yet lacks the moral will and the moral courage to defend the lives of its own people here in America! We will not let it go! And if he does not act, we will act! Applause begins to rumble in the pews. “We will act,” Dr. King cries, raising his fist in the air. “We will do it for all of our lost ones. All of those like Jimmie Lee Jackson, who have gone too soon, taken by hate.” Applause erupts in the church sanctuary. They are behind Dr. King. They will follow him to the capital. They will follow him to the end.
History is filled with stories of people who stood up for what they believed in and changed history. The Bible is filled with stories of people who stood up for what is right, and changed everything. From Daniel, who changed the heart of a corrupt king, to Moses, who delivered a nation from slavery, to Paul, who preached the gospel to the Jews and Gentiles, and before rulers and kings, each of these men risked their lives because of a conviction in what they believed. Each of them was willing to die for what they believed. Dr. King and his followers believed in the freedom and equality of all men. Jimmie Lee Jackson gave up his life not only protecting his father, but because he too believed in this freedom. As Christians, we have an even greater freedom that we believe in. We believe in a freedom from sin (Romans 6:17-18). We believe in a freedom from death (Romans 8:1-2). This freedom is not for any specific race, gender, or social status. This freedom is for everyone (Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11). This freedom comes through Christ's blood, shed on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins (Romans 4:25). Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Jimmie Lee Jackson, and the others who fought and died during the civil rights movement lived their lives to the fullest. They died for those they loved. They died for what they believed in. The fight for equality and freedom is truly a noble one, but freedom in Christ is the highest virtue for which any of us can ever fight. The New Testament tells us to live lives that are worthy of Christ's calling (Colossians 1:9-10, 1 Thessalonians 2:12, Ephesians 4:1-3). If we are able to live our lives, ready to fight and die for our Lord Jesus Christ, we will not only have lived them to the fullest, but, like Dr. King, like Jackson, like Paul, Moses, and Daniel, we will change the world.