This is no ordinary day, nor a day that you simply get to take off from work, but a day dedicated to one of the greatest leaders and cultural influencers of our time. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a pastor, activist and the most prominent figure in the Civil Rights movement that fought to end racial segregation and discrimination. His life reverberates generational influence and has impacted the collective conscience of society, especially here in America.
A few, the cynical amongst us, want to accentuate Dr. Kings character flaws in a vain attempt to tarnish his life’s work. However, for me, I’m encouraged by his flaws because it demonstrates that he was human. To those who would preach his flaws quicker than his virtues, I would quote to them Jesus in the gospels who said,”Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone…” and hopefully would watch the crowd slowly dissipate as it did in Jesus’ time. I also recall, that it was Abraham Lincoln who said, “It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.”
I also grateful for his flaws because it speaks the same message of James chapter five verse seventeen, “Elijah was a man just like us”. Dr. King was a man just like us. He may not have closed the rain in the heavens, but he did open the flood gates that led to social reform. It reminds me that God uses broken men and women to change the world.
It also motivates me to constantly preach that everyone of us can be impact humanity for good. No, not all of us will lead the multitudes, God raises up specific individuals in specific times, but we can all do good to our fellow man. We can all speak up for our brothers and sisters of different nationalities and skin colors. We can all speak up for the least of these. We all can because even though we’re flawed, God uses the broken to make things whole.
I love King’s vision for racial reconciliation, but it wasn’t a vision that was King’s alone. It had been born from many women and men before him whose shoulders he stood upon and the many who walked shoulder to shoulder with him in his lifetime. Ultimately, though, I love King’s vision for racial reconciliation because it’s God’s vision for racial reconciliation. In Revelation we are given a picture of heaven, a picture where race doesn’t disappear, but it’s celebrated under the banner of Christ and brought together in unity. In Revelation chapter 7 verse 9 the apostle John conveys what he saw in the heavenlies, “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.”
What a glorious day that will be! A day where all of humanity, regardless of tongue, tribe or nation, will be circled around the throne of God singing “worthy is the Lamb”. It will be a day where there will be no more war, hatred or injustice against one another, but peace and brotherly love.
However, we must remember we are not there yet. We live in the tension of the already, but not yet of our faith. Until then we must remember that we, like Dr. King, even though broken, can impact the world for good. We can stand up for what’s right and fight for the worth and dignity of our fellow man. We can love are neighbors as ourselves.
Dr. Kings message is as much needed today as it was fifty year ago and we would do well to call it to mind often. I’m grateful for the work of Dr. King and pray that God will give me, and many of us, the strength to stand with as much resolve and courage for the good of all people as he possessed.
Thank you Dr. King for your work, your life and your legacy. Today we celebrate you while standing on your shoulders looking to the horizon of the day where your dream will find it’s final resting place.