freedom is a constant struggle

I have seen this quote from Dr. King a lot lately: “The arc of history bends toward justice.” Wonderful quote. Our vision of the future should be formed by hope.

But here are a few other quotes from Dr. King we must remember:

“We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

“[It is] a tragic misconception of time, [a] strangely rational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively.”

“Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this ‘hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”

“So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?” 

Freedom is a constant struggle. We must never forget that. And we must never stop struggling to gain and maintain freedom for those who suffer injustice, because:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Red Letter Year: 5/15

Matthew 22:1-14

Jesus also told them other parables. He said, “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come!

So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’ But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them.

The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town. And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor. Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’ 10 So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests.

11 But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. 12 ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. 13 Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”


This parable echoes and extends the one from yesterday. Here again, the servants sent out represent the prophets of Israel who received just such treatment: ignored, beaten, or killed. Like the landowner, the king sends troops to deal with those who have spurned his invitation, representing Israel’s history of captivity and occupation. No detail was given about the other farmers who were brought in, but here we get more detail on the alternate guests. They are “everyone they could find, good and bad alike.” It should be our goal to fill our churches with everyone we can find, good and bad alike. And we get one crucial caveat here in the part at the end about the man not wearing a wedding robe. Everyone is invited, everyone can come, but entering in does require a change. The missing wedding robe represents holiness, which must be the active pursuit of every follower of Jesus. We often get into trouble by trying to name specifically what a path to holiness looks like for someone else; it can look very different for each person. Still, every follower of Jesus must be on a path to holiness and seeking out spiritual direction in that quest is a good thing. This does not undo the message of infinite grace from yesterday, because we can only walk a path of holiness by the power of Jesus’ grace. Holiness is an expression of grace and a necessary one. If that thought is new to you, I encourage you to ask the Holy Spirit to move you forward in holiness, to give you direction – a specific command – about what your next growth point is. The man in the parable is thrown out as much for his speechlessness as for his lack of robe. Don’t stay silent, say, ‘Hey, give me a robe and I’ll put it on so I can stay for the feast.’ That’s the sort of prayer that always gets answered.

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.