On Dec. 10, 1967, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered an address entitled “Sleeping Through a Revolution” to a mixed-race audience in Chicago. He said, “God called America to be a great nation … nobody needs to be poor in this rich nation. The question is whether the will is there, and up to now I haven’t seen the will.”
The lack of will on the part of the privileged has resulted in “occupy” movements not only on Wall Street but on Main Streets around the world. According to those studying this radical movement, the “occupants” say they represent the “have-nots.” Last week, I asked some of the people camped around the Stephen P. Clark Government Center in Miami whom they represented and a very articulate young white man said to me, “We represent 99 percent of America.” That’s the percentage of folk in America with incomes less than $350,000 per year.
Whether you agree with the “Occupy” movements or not, it’s not debatable that America joins many of the other nations that have deep social problems and serious economic challenges.
Unemployment, re-engineering, re-structuring, decreased benefits and slashed incomes have already affected 70 percent of South Floridians. This past week, many county employees received pink slips. Many other workers have been told they have to contribute more to their retirement funds, while receiving less in salaries.
These are tough times economically, psychologically and spiritually. And a major question is, “Are there any immediate solutions?” Maybe. Just maybe it’s time for national revival. Since our nation needs to hear from God, be helped and healed by God, maybe, just maybe, there’s an immediate remedy for our dilemma.
I suggest that the passage in Chronicles offers an immediate remedy. This passage, perhaps more than any other, has been used to address negative spiritual reversal, reverence and revival. Here, the Lord God gives a solution to a national crisis of depleting resources. In verse 14 of this Hebrew text, the Lord is quoted as saying, “My people, called by My name!” God is speaking to people who have identified themselves with Him and His work. God calls and speaks to His people. First, the call is for His people to prepare by “humbling” themselves. This call to humility is the acknowledgment of God’s Lordship in our lives. We are admitting our weakness and reaching out for His power.
Second, there is the call to prayer. What happened to the time when places of worship would announce a time for corporate fasting and prayer for God to show up in their situations? What happened to the practice of local churches conducting weeks of prayer before revival? Do we honestly believe our national condition will change for the better without prayer? We need to pray in our homes, in our cars, at our jobs, in the break rooms, at the chapels and on the altars. Let us determine that we will take every moment of life as an opportunity to pray.
Third, there is the call to passion when the passage says we are to “seek His face.” We are to examine our lives and identify anything that does not please the Lord or line up with His holy word and we are to eliminate that from our lives.
If God's children will come back to Him in genuine repentance and faith, we will all witness our nation impacted for and by the glory of God. Let’s wake up from our sleep so we can meet and occupy “ church street.”
Dr. Walter T. Richardson is pastor-emeritus of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church located in South Miami-Dade and chairman of the Miami-Dade Community
Relations Board. He may be contacted at wtrichardson@Bellsouth.net
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Photo: Martin Luther King