Today is the day we remember the late and great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Many businesses will be closed, mail delivery will be suspended, and social media and TV will be a buzz with videos and quotes. But for many of our children, it will simply be a day they don’t have to go to school.
It wasn’t even that for me as a child. We didn’t get that day out of school. I grew up in a very white community in the Midwest and I am embarrassed to say that I was unaware of what Dr. King did, what he said, and the impact he had during his life. But as I began to read, as I began to listen to people who had lived through those times share of his legacy, I was overwhelmed and in awe of all he accomplished in just 39 years of life.
When I talk with friends now who happen to be African American, I’m horrified by what some have experienced and encouraged by the hope that Dr. King brought for them… and all of us. And I want my kids to know today we can celebrate so much more than just a day out of school.
1) He was a man called by God to awaken America – especially the church.
Though his impact was on our entire nation, the call began with the church. If we call ourselves Jesus followers, then we need to love everyone. If we believe God made everyone in His image, then we need to remember that every person has worth, value and dignity.
We have a moral responsibility to protect the vulnerable, speak up for the voiceless, and care for the marginalized. That is the essence of the gospel and that ought to be the conscience of every person of faith.
Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others? Dr.King
2) He was just a man, but allowed the Spirit of God to work through him.
He wasn’t perfect, nor did he claim to be. But he allowed the love of God to motivate him and guide him. He did more for the cause of equal rights than any other single American and yet achieved it by preaching a message of love at a time when it would have been much easier to preach hate. In a world today when we think that the best way to leverage our view is anger rants on social media, he took the path of love and forgiveness. And just as the Spirit of God used him, he can use us.
I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. Dr.King
3) He understood that “gospel” is an action word… not just a ticket to heaven.
The word “gospel” means “good news” and is often used in reference to the good news of the love of Jesus. But this good news is for all of us. It’s not just our way to get to Heaven. It’s not just for Sunday’s. But it compels believers to address the issues of injustice anywhere.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Dr.King
Can I suggest that today you Google: Martin Luther King’s letter from a Birmingham jail? Take a few moments to read this and then remind yourself that he composed this theological treatise and call to action with no laptop, Internet, or set of commentaries. He did this from a prison cell and in this letter he calls the church to step up for those who are oppressed. I close with his words.
Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.