After Montgomery officials pledged to enforce state and city segregation laws despite a recent Supreme Court decision declaring such measures unconstitutional, the MIA unanimously voted at its 26 April meeting to continue the bus boycott.1 The following Sunday, in a sermon based on these two handwritten documents, King considers the story of Jonah to reflect on the human urge to flee from responsibility and from God. According to a newspaper account of the service, King prayed that God would give Montgomery's city commission the “wisdom to see the vision of goodness in the Cradle of the Confederacy.”2
One of the strange facts of human life is the fact that there is within every man an underlying urge to escape God. This is true not only of the rabit atheist, but also of the devout theist. We may not be aware of this in our conscious minds, but deep down within the hidden chambers of the sub-conscius there is the mad desire to flee from the presence of the Almighty God.
On the one hand, this attempt to escape God stemns from man's desire to hid his innomost nature. Every psychiatrist is familiar with the tremendous force of resistance in each personality against self-revelation. Nobody wants to be known, even when he knows that his health and salvation depend on it.
Nobody wants to be known There is something within all of us that we wish to hid, something that we wish to remain private. But when we stand in the presence of the Almighty God, that which is humanly private becomes divinely public. God looks with eyes that see everything; He peers into man's ground and depth. Our entire inner life, our thoughts and desires, our feelings and imaginations, are known by God. Who does not hate a companion who is always present on every rock Who does not want to break through the prison of such a perpetual companionship.
Another reason why man seeks to escape God is because he doesn't want to follow the commands of God. God's commands are exacting, final and ultimate. Man in his finite, frail and sinful nature seeks to escape these exacting demands.
Man's perennial attempt to flee from God is pictured graphically in the book of Jonah.
Text Jonah 1:3F
Whenever God places responsibility upon man he cant escape it and the more he tries the more frustrated he becomes.
Quote the Psalmist, “If I assend into the heavens …4
God's will is inflexible. Even after Johnah had gone through all of thies mishaps, God still stood before Jonah saying Go to Ninevah.5
1. King, Address to MIA Mass Meeting at Day Street Baptist Church, 26 April 1956, in Papers 3:230-232.
2. Art Carter, “Rev. King Is ‘King’ in Montg'ry,” Baltimore Afro-American, 12 May 1956. The document is dated from this newspaper article.
3. Jonah 1:3: “But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish, from the presence of the Lord, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” The succeeding verses tell of Jonah's flight from God's command to go to the city of Nineveh to condemn its sinfulness, and his eventual submission to this task.
4. Cf. Psalm 139:8.
5. Cf. Jonah 3:1-2.
CSKC, INP: Coretta Scott King Collection, In Private Hands, Sermon file, folder 63: "Fleeing From God & When God Seems to Deceive Us."