January 21, 2013

Martin Luther King, Jr.

I've been reading the biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. to my class this past week.  It is amazing how God used this flawed man to speak truth into a world that needed to change.  Nick and I have been talking about what we would like to see the kids take away from hearing his story.

Yesterday, I was reading through some of his speeches and sermons (I also ordered this book), and I kept choking back tears, taking in the power of his words.  The power of his words and the truth he spoke are forever relevant, not just for racial equality but for the injustices that will always be a part of this broken world until Jesus returns.  And I found him saying perfectly the thing I want most for my kids to know...

“I said to my children, 'I'm going to work and do everything that I can do to see that you get a good education. I don't ever want you to forget that there are millions of God's children who will not and cannot get a good education, and I don't want you feeling that you are better than they are. For you will never be what you ought to be until they are what they ought to be.” 

And I am personally getting so much out of hearing his story again and reading his words.  My mind hasn't stopped racing since I started reading, and I'm feeling challenged and convicted.

There is so much injustice in the world.  It might not be as in your face as it was then, but it's there....it's here.  I want to become more aware of the injustices that pervade our society and our world.  I don't want to sit back and be silent in a world filled with so much suffering and wrongdoing.  It's easy to get too comfortable, and for me, it's easy to get wrapped up in my own pain.  But, I don't want my comfort or my struggle to cause me to be ignorant towards the broken world we live in.

Martin Luther King's words make me evaluate what I believe because I'm an American vs. what I believe because I'm a Christian. Sometimes, as Christians, I think we get these two jumbled up and forget to think critically about the ways we've been influenced by an individualistic society that teaches us that we are entitled to live the "American Dream".  But, we forget that Jesus taught the opposite...."If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it"  (Matthew 16:24-25). It's scary to think about the fact that so many American Christians promoted and defended slavery and segregation because they failed to think critically about the norms of society. We may not have things as blatant as slavery and segregation today, but what injustices do we turn a blind eye to because we would rather live in comfortable ignorance?

"I still believe that standing up for the truth of God is the greatest thing in the world. This is the end of life. The end of life is not to be happy. The end of life is not to achieve pleasure and avoid pain. The end of life is to do the will of God, come what may."   -Martin Luther King, Jr.

When it comes down to it, I am not entitled to live some sort of American dream, especially in a world where others have to fight to live at all.  The only thing I'm entitled to live for is Jesus, and if I am going to live for Jesus, I actually really have to try be like Him.  Jesus came to love a world that hated him, and so "we love because he first loved us."  Martin Luther King believed that God's love was more powerful and compelling in his fight than any material weapon.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”  -Martin Luther King, Jr (duh)

I am so grateful for the change Martin Luther King, Jr brought about and the change he continues to inspire today, in others and in me.  I pray that we will not become complacent, and that we will never stop fighting for truth and justice and equality.
Good gracious this is a long post!

These people say things way better than me: