Against the backdrop of a controversial killing of a black man in St. Louis and seething rage across the United States, a young lawyer stood before a small group of men and delivered a speech that would make him famous.
“If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time. Or die by suicide.”
These were the words and actions of Abraham Lincoln in 1838. Francis McIntosh was the black man who had been chained to a tree and burned to death by a white mob. The Civil War was still twenty years away. The Emancipation Proclamation was also years from being written. But a twenty-eight year old attorney and future president saw the disregard for the rule of law as a sign of an unraveling society.
We have come a long way in America. Great strides have been taken. Yet, we must always deal with the temptation to ignore the rule of law. It takes prophetic champions to speak into these issues. I prayed this morning that God might raise up a Lincoln, an Martin Luther King or another to bring us together.
These are new days and circumstances, but an old problem still exists among the nation. It is like terrorism at home as we turn on ourselves, citizen against citizen. The rule of law must prevail. And it takes men with great heart, sharp minds and persistence to bring people together around truth and not emotion.
One pastor told me this week that preserving unity in the community seems to always be an uphill struggle. It’s exhausting and takes perseverance and commitment.
But as I told him, “All things worthwhile are uphill.”