Friday, 06 March 2015 19:42

The Road to Selma

Written by  Bob Crittendon
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In John 15, Jesus talked about the power of sacrificial love, and one of the actors in the movie, Selma, used one of these verses as he discussed the love in action displayed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  We read in verse 13: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (NKJV)

David Oyelowo, a professing Christian who played Dr. King in the film, said:



“That is not only what Dr. King did ultimately (in being assassinated); it’s what he did for those 13 years that he led the civil rights movement. Every day he sacrificed seeing his kids. He had to endure death threats. He had to endure ill health. He often went into the hospital for exhaustion, because he was constantly putting himself on the line for others. That’s what the Bible tells us to do.”



This month, the 50th anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery, supporting passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, is being commemorated.  The importance of the series of events leading to the rights of all people to enjoy the same freedoms regarding their participation in the political process is played up in the movie, Selma, a poignant retelling of key events surrounding the famous march.


There has been plenty of discussion of the film and its content, and it is drawing attention not only to this area, but, in a greater sense, to the history of the civil rights movement, and that’s a good thing. The spiritual element of the activity of the movement is incorporated into the film.  I contend you cannot separate the spiritual from the events of that time. 


Dr. John Piper, in an insightful commentary on the film at his website, contends that the movie lets the religious roots shine through. He states that, “The story stirs up dreams of a life that counts.”  He writes:



“This was the main impact on me. When I think about the needs and sorrows and injustices of the world (thousands of peoples perishing unreached by the gospel, millions of babies killed in their mothers’ wombs, global slavery and human trafficking, ethnic and racial hatreds around the world), the thought of an easy, comfortable, secure life of coasting to the end, feels overwhelmingly unattractive to me.


So I pray that this story of courage and sacrifice and conflicted righteousness will stir you and me to an unwavering commitment not to waste our lives.”



Lead actor David Oyelowo believes that God called him to play the role of Dr. King.  He told writer Jeffrey Huston for a piece that he has seen God’s hand at work since he first read the script in July of 2007.  He told Huston, “I felt God tell me that I was going to play Dr. King – and in Selma. Unfortunately,” he added, chuckling, “the director at the time didn’t agree with me.”  Oyelowo was raised a Baptist and became a born-again Christian when he was sixteen.  Huston writes that David is no stranger to listening for God’s voice.  He is quoted as saying: “There was something that I just couldn’t shake once I had read that script…and then I just had that knowing. I know that Voice. I know God’s voice in my life, and I just couldn’t shake it from that point on.”


When we reflect on the impact of the civil rights movement, we can see that so many people were driven by a cause.  We can each examine our own source of inspiration, making sure that we are in alignment with God’s plan for us.  David Oyelowo believes that he was being led by the Lord to pursue a cause, a calling, to play Dr. King on film.  Dr. Piper encourages us to not waste our lives.  There are causes greater than ourselves, and perhaps the Lord is calling you to be involved in a special, intentional way.  There may be a call for perseverance in the pursuit of a call, but we can be diligent and assured that God will give us strength.


I also think we can be challenged to think more spiritually, or biblically, concerning the events of our lives.  Prayer is a chief component, and I believe that we can gain a greater measure of God’s power as we take a moment, or more, to surrender our pursuits to the Lord.  We may be following God’s call for us, but if we’re not coating our activity with prayer, then we may be missing out on the maximum effectiveness that God would intend.


As you observe and perhaps participate in the Selma-to-Montgomery activities, think about the value of each life, and specifically, the value of your own life, recognizing God has created you with a unique purpose.




Last modified on Thursday, 23 April 2015 19:45
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