During a trip to Atlanta a few weeks ago I had the privilege of visiting the recently opened National Center for Human and Civil rights.
Stepping across the threshold from the lobby took me to scenes from America’s divided south in the 50’s and 60’s, the bloody and horrific results of Jim Crow laws, the faded photographs of men and women martyred on the soil of the “land of the free and home of the brave.”
Encased in glass boxes I observed well-preserved artifacts from Martin Luther King’s short, turbulent life, each telling part of the story that led to his untimely death. What struck me in particular was MLK’s humility as he was thrust into The Civil Rights Movement. According to different sermons he preached and notes left behind, MLK recognized that his reluctant involvement was the result of Divine Providence. He was clearly called to be a voice for the voiceless.
What humbled me, as I experienced the great divide between white and black was the extreme prejudice against men and women, who like me, were created in the image of God, treated with such hatred and malice all due to the color of their skin.
My tour at the NCHCR ended on the top floor of the museum where I was invited to enter into the plight of human beings all over the world. Men, women, and children suffering indignity and injustice every day due to cultural, religious, and gender issues. I stood in the middle of a room as a 360 degree video displayed images of human beings, Imago Dei, mistreated in horrific ways in all corners of the globe.
Over the past few weeks, as I’ve watched the events in Ferguson, in the Middle East, Africa, in my own city, I’ve pled with God to give us compassion for one another, to help us recognize that we are created in His image – each of us with our similarities and differences reflect the unity and diversity of the triune God, who through the cross of Christ, broke down the barriers that divide. He demonstrated agape love – a love without boundary or distinction or condition. May my words and my actions reflect this – the beautiful gospel – as I interact with men and women who are different than I am and yet created in the image of God.
I am acutely aware that mine is a tiny voice in a dialogue that’s been going on for a long time, but I am compelled to write – to be accountable – to not be silent.