I’ve noticed that MLK Day receives an increasingly lukewarm, if not cool reception from many Americans. I can imagine that some question why they would have to celebrate any man once every year. For others, it can be darker than that; Some “respectfully” resist the recognition of this day because the central figure belongs to the “other America”—the America made up of social justice junkies and liberals. Some take on the defense that King was a mere man and that no one should have that kind of cult following. I believe that lying deep in many hearts of men and women living–not in King’s time–but today, is a pride and blindness that is responsible for the rotting decay of our country.
At the risk of sounding blasphemous to the Pharisee, I see so many similarities between Jesus and King. Let me say this before going any further—Jesus has come into this world and paid it all for us. He is the Messiah. However, I do believe that if we follow our God-given convictions as individuals redeemed from sin by Jesus’ sacrifice and cleansing blood, we will all end up looking like Jesus. We will all experience the beauty of living life as a sacrifice poured out like oil. That is, after all, why he died. Like King, we may even have the honor of dying like Him: crucified by people who he chose to love in spite of the terror, the taunting, the racism, and hatred.
In the face of all of that, King steadfastly modeled Jesus’ teachings like turning the other cheek, speaking truth in the face of corruption, and showing the powerful their own hypocrisies. Through nonviolence, King demonstrated that the kingdom of God was not of this world, lest we should fight with our fists. King also demonstrated that racism was a spirit, and that the fight was not with flesh or blood. Like Jesus, he knew that death was the likely price to pay for the fulfillment of this call on his life. King stood in the face of white Pharisee “Christians” who had a form of godliness but conveniently forgot the commands of God to love. King stood in the face of black militants who forgot God and sought to take matters into their own hands. In the face of haunting terrors that roamed free to chase down and kill black men, women, and children like dogs, King also taught and practiced forgiveness. How can any Christian—or person of faith—deny that God was with him? How can anyone deny that this movement led by King was God inspired?
Martin Luther King is an example and inspiration for every Christian to live a life fulfilling God’s call to love others. He is not to be worshipped, but I believe that we should honor his contribution to this world as well as worship the God that led him. King’s faith was the very fuel for his social justice passion.
In the same manner, our faith should fuel our action. I don’t know about you, but the God I serve loves people and inspires me to social justice action. After all, Jesus was a social justice minister. We should, in obedience to the Holy Spirit’s guiding, be willing to speak up and be a voice for God. God wants to use you. Let MLK Day be a remembrance of God’s passion for people and the calling on your life to change the world in some significant way.