Lukewarm Acceptance


Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Letters from Birmingham Jail

If you are unfamiliar with Dr. King’s work, Letters from Birmingham Jail, it may be worth your time to read it today. The letter is from Dr. King to other clergymen, defending his actions against those who were condemning his civil rights activism.

I won’t for a second attempt to summarize what is a deep and intellectual work, but this particular quote jumped out at me. Dr. King is expressing his frustration with those that agree with his stance on civil rights, but do not stand with him in protest of the injustices being done.

He quotes these people saying, “I agree with the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”… and that he should “wait for a ‘more convenient season.’”

The prevailing principle of his sentiment is the idea that we agree with a cause, but we don’t act. He wrestles with the idea that people support their stand for equal rights, but only with “lukewarm acceptance,” and that this is more frustrating than those that disagree with him entirely.

If you’ll allow me the freedom, I’d like to make this comparison to what we do at BridgeBuilders. Many people see, understand, and agree with our work. They recognize Jesus’ call to care for the poor, and our desire to bring the church into this fight.

Yet they stand on the sidelines.

This is sometimes for noble reasons: busyness, family, other ministry responsibilities, etc. But could I challenge that there are some of us who have a lukewarm acceptance, either not seeing the urgency of the need or not understanding our vital role in this fight.

We say it often, but Dallas is one of the most impoverished cities in our nation. In fact, of cities with more than a million residents, Dallas is first in childhood poverty. Numero Uno.

This means that we have the highest population of children living in poverty, the ones who have no control over their economic standing.

We have a calling to minister to the hungry, thirsty, sick, imprisoned among us, Jesus was very clear, we are to care for the “least of these” (Matthew 25). Not just BridgeBuilders, but you…we must join together in the effort to alleviate poverty in our city.

Don’t receive this calling with lukewarm acceptance. Recognize it, embrace it, and go and care for the poor.