Editor’s Note: This three-part sermon series is designed to be used during a month in which we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and offers a biblical model for the kind of reconciling work on which Dr. King was focused. It’s a series that can help us speak to the pressing issues of today and enable the church to once again be a center for reconciliation between people of different races and cultures.
Sermon 1: When God Gives Us a Dream
Text: Acts 10:9 – 16
Thesis: With both Peter and Martin Luther King, Jr., God gave a dream of world without the dividing walls—the Beloved Community—that still seeks realization today.
Introduction: Concerning the power of dreams, Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Langston Hughes wrote: “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die—life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.” Ralph Waldo Emerson penned, “Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.”
Transition: For every Christian is positioned by God to dream God’s dreams. God’s dreams unctionize us upward; activate us outward, and inspire us onward.
Points: For that’s what the God-given dream (in our text) was all about. Peter’s dream teaches us what can happen to us when God gives us a dream. For God’s dreams…
- Change our minds from carnal to spiritual.
- Bring healing and wholeness to the world.
- Raise the human consciousness to pursue a higher way.
Close: And in the same way that God gave Peter a dream, God also gave a dream for a unified humanity to Martin Luther King, Jr. For he said: “I have a dream . .that one day my four little children will live in a nation where they wouldn’t be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character!” And when King considered the time for this dream, he said: “[…] however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, for “truth crushed to earth will rise again […] How long? Not long, for the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Our task is to keep reaching for God’s dreams until mountains are lowered, valleys are exalted, righteousness flows like a river, and justice like a mighty stream!
Sermon 2: United We Stand, Divided We Fall
Text: Matthew 12:25
Thesis: The best way for Christians to promote unity and oneness in a divided world is to model unity and oneness in the church.
Introduction: This sermon speaks to the revolutionary idea of oneness in the church. 1 Corinthians 12:12, 25 says: “For as the body is one and has many members; and all of the members of that one body being many are one; so also is Christ. That there should be no schisms in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.”
Oneness is essential if the church is to effectively serve this present age. A fractured church is unacceptable to God. Jesus said: “Every kingdom divided against itself will be brought to desolation and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand!” And so, the church’s challenge is for us to (deliberately and intentionally) tear down every wall that hinders and every divisive thing prevents oneness in the church.
Points: And so, “What issues must we deal with if we really want oneness?
- Our internal and institutional –isms, dissensions, and divisions.
- Our Divine Mandate to reach and teach the WHOLE world.
Close: We’re under divine order, a moral imperative, a relational mandate, and an evangelistic urgency to pursue oneness in the church! United we stand, but divided we fall!
Sermon 3: Everybody’s Welcome, Everybody’s Equal!
Text: Romans 15:7 – 13
Introduction: Thomas Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.” Adam Clayton Powell said, “Unless man is committed to the belief that all mankind are his brothers, then he labors in vain and hypocritically in the vineyard of equality.” And Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We must face the fact that the church is still the most segregated major institution in America. At 11:00 on Sunday morning, when we stand and sing “Christ has no east or west,” we stand at the most segregated hour in this nation. This is tragic. Nobody of honesty can overlook this. And the first way that the church can repent is to remove the yoke of segregation from its own body.”
I’ve wondered why so many churches aren’t full. After all, they offer the things that people want (biblical preaching, inspired music, spiritual worship, challenging Christian education, and ministry for all ages). But maybe, King was onto something THEN that’s relevant NOW! Although he was referring (specifically) to racial segregation, there are all kinds of segregation in church. And so, many who would come to church don’t come because they don’t feel like they’re a part—and they don’t feel welcome. But God is calling us to check at the door the twin demonic spirits of segregation and separation!
Transition: This was Paul’s lesson to the Roman Church, for this church operated with divisions, schisms, and separation. The majority Gentile members had issues with the minority Jewish members. Paul addresses them saying that (and I’m paraphrasing) some of these branches from Abraham’s tree (the Jews) have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, were grafted in. So now you, too, receive the blessing God promised Abraham and his children. But, be careful not to brag about replacing the Jewish branches that were broken off. You may be saying, ‘Those branches were broken off to make room for me, so I must be pretty good.’ But you’d better remember that those branches were broken off because they didn’t believe God, and you’re only there because you do believe. So, don’t be proud; but be humble, grateful—and careful!”
Points:Paul’s challenge to those Christians in Rome, and to Christians everywhere is…
- 15:7 – 9a: “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God[…]”
- 15:9b – 12: “As it is written, ‘Therefore I will confess you among the Gentile, and sing praises to your Name;’ and again he says, ‘Rejoice, O Gentiles, with God’s people. . .’
When Christ breaks up segregation and separation, Jews and Gentiles rejoice together!
Close: In Christ, we are one body of believers, worshiping one God! King said: “When we let (freedom) ring […] we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics will be able to join hands and sing, ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’” In Christ: everybody is equal and everybody is welcome!
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