Dr. King is obviously named after his father, Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. Both of them, however, share a common namesake. They are each named for the famed reformer of the sixteenth century: Martin Luther.
Few people today know much about Martin Luther, other than perhaps that the Lutheran church is named after him. Martin Luther was a sixteenth century monk who lived in Germany. He concluded that the doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church of which he was a part were not correct.
As a result, he decided to take a stand against what he saw as a religious (and a resultant political) system that was ill founded and corrupt. History records that he drew up 95 theses and posted them to the door of the church in Wittenberg, inviting public debate with anyone over the validity of such things as the sale of indulgences, the existence of purgatory, the necessity of the priesthood for an individual’s salvation, etc…
As he anticipated, his actions incited violent opposition from many within the status quo of his day. He, himself, was jailed and faced both prosecution and persecution. Nonetheless, he believed in the principles upon which he chose to take his stand. In fact, he drew up his defense under the title of “Here I Stand”.
Thankfully, his courage in doing so eventually brought about much needed changes in the religious and political situation of Europe in the sixteenth century and beyond, and resulted in what we know today as the “Protestant Reformation”.
How fittingly, then, that his namesake hundreds of years later, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., would follow a similar path. Both men believed it was important to take their stand, even if they appeared at first to stand alone (or at best, in the minority). Fortunately, they both soon realized that they did not stand alone, but that a whole lot of people stood with them. They also realized that in standing for what they knew to be right, they could make a difference and affect change.
I trust in these two examples we will see the importance of taking a stand whenever we know that what is happening around us is clearly in the wrong. Yes, it takes courage to take a stand. Nevertheless, change can never occur unless and until we are willing to stand in the face of evil.
As Paul says in Ephesians 6:10-20:
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,
20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.