Tomorrow the nation celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King day. It is a fitting memorial to one of the most significant men in American history. By the sheer force of his will, intellect, love for his fellow man and (by today’s standards) an uncharacteristic adherence to the Word of God, Dr. King blazed the trail for the social and economic improvements that African Americans now enjoy. He rightfully should be honored by an entire nation whose sense of self was made better due to his efforts.
As I read the transcript of his 1968 speech “I See the Promised Land” it was remarkable to feel his eloquence and humility as he addressed a public audience for the final time the day before his assassination. His was a movement grounded in the ways of God. His call for social justice for African Americans was based on the spiritual law of God that all men are created equal in the eyes of God, and as such should be treated equally without regard to race. But I am sure that the freedom that Dr. King espoused was not a freedom that gave license to live without responsibility. Not the freedom to live to gratify the desires of your flesh, not the freedom to bring fear to others. Dr. King’s brand of freedom always embraced the scriptures. This was its basis. Dr. King would agree to the freedom God talked about in 1 Peter 2:16-17 - Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. Dr. King’s freedom came to serve God, not the other way around. Religion was not a means to a social end. Freedom was a means to serve God’s end. In his last speech, Dr. King used the word “God” 11 times. Civil Rights for African Americans was subordinate to God’s laws.
The modern day people who profess to be leaders of the African American movement (if a single monolith still so exist) could do very well to emulate Dr. King’s subordination to the Word of God. I wonder if their apparent impotence on the national stage is rendered so because they have asserted themselves and their political causes above and beyond God’s Word. I have seen precious little in the way of real Christian authority as the driving factor that lead these modern day version of so-called leaders. Jesus says: "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing…” (John 15:5 NIV) It is undeniable that Dr. King “bore much fruit”. True Christian leaders tend to do that long after the Lord has called them home.
Dr. King ended his last public speech with these words:
“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”
On behalf of those who loved Dr. King – to God Be the Glory.
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