equality, basic human rights – for nearly my entire life.”
One week ago today we lost a hero. U.S. Rep. John Lewis was a living testimony of our nation’s enduring fight for a freedom that means the same for all. Modern history has not known another who has embodied the physical, political and spiritual fight for Civil Rights the way Lewis did.
Lewis had no intention of evading physical harm for the sake of the cause. In his final tribute of Lewis, former President Barack Obama said: “He loved this country so much that he risked his life and his blood so that it might live up to its promise. And through the decades, he not only gave all of himself to the cause of freedom and justice, but inspired generations that followed to try to live up to his example.”
From his near-death experience marching in Selma in 1965 (which became known as “Bloody Sunday”), through his 45th and final arrest in 2013 fighting in support of comprehensive immigration reform, this Civil Rights icon never strayed from his belief that “people of all faiths, and no faiths, and all backgrounds, creeds, and colors [must join together] to fight for equality and justice in a peaceful, orderly, nonviolent fashion.”
Often referred to as the conscience of our nation, Lewis questioned the political powers that be. On August 28, 1963 at the March on Washington, Lewis said: “My friends, let us not forget that we are involved in a serious social revolution. By and large, American politics is dominated by politicians who build their careers on immoral compromises and ally themselves with open forms of political, economic, and social exploitation. There are exceptions, of course. We salute those. But what political leader can stand up and say, ‘My party is the party of principles?’ … Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march on Washington?”
Decades later, on the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” Obama traveled to Selma to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge arm-in-arm with Lewis. At this commemoration, Obama stated, “What greater expression of faith in the American experiment than this; what greater form of patriotism is there; than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong enough to be self-critical, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this nation to more closely align with our highest ideals?”
Is this not the consolation of the Christian life, too? We are not yet finished. We are called to take a closer look at the imperfections in our own hearts. And because we are free in Christ, we have the power to uproot the parts enslaved to sin and more closely align our hearts with God’s.
As we mourn the loss of this Civil Rights hero, we commit to fighting the good fight – the fight for our faith and sanctification; the fight for our nation’s principles and ideals; the fight for true freedom.
We take comfort in these words of Lewis’ as we carry on in this fight: “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year; it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”
In this fight until freedom means the same for all,
The LMDJ Team