Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I cannot conceive how anyone who calls himself or herself a Christian can think it is acceptable to go through life with a hateful heart, embrace racism or fail to care about what happens to those who are victims of injustice. Further, I cannot understand why we continue to elect political leaders who signal these things are acceptable in order to ensure the ongoing support of their political base. Hateful hearts, racism and callous indifference to those who suffer are absolutely, totally and completely contrary to God’s Will.

But even as I assert this, I am acutely aware how careful I must be not to be swept up in a phenomenon that is occurring right now. It is our penchant to criticize – even demonize – others for their actions, and think we’ve done everything we need to because we’ve spoken out on social media. Frankly, we delude ourselves if we assume we’ve somehow moved beyond our own hateful hearts, racism and turning away from injustice.

 

The fact of the matter is that I must deal with my own hateful heart, racism and callousness to injustice – and so must you. And since it’s at its core a spiritual issue, we must be willing to name it for what it is. Sin.

 

You and I are like the rest of humanity when it comes to this sin. But it doesn’t have to be the final word. We can be different because of Jesus Christ’s unconditional, transformational and invitational love. This love has the ability to do what we struggle to do on our own – shrink our hateful hearts, move us beyond our racism and unleash passionate care about the plight of every single human being. But this does not happen magically or easily. We must be sincerely willing to give ourselves fully to it, so it shapes and molds who we are.

 

This deep spiritual reality, I am convinced, is the legacy of Dr. King. It is why I give thanks that he walked among us, living fully as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Why I give thanks for his prophetic witness to God’s passionate desire for equality and justice for all of God’s children, especially those who suffer the most. And why I give thanks that the vision he articulated so poetically over 50 years ago can still move us today to be our best selves.

 

I pray that you will join me in celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the most meaningful way possible – by being courageous enough to begin living his dream of being God’s salt and light in a world that needs it so desperately. Not just today when everyone is talking about it. But also every other day the rest of the year as well.