Looking back on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2018, I find myself reflecting on what exactly today is about. Is it a celebration of human rights? Is it a celebration of a man, a father, a pastor, and a teacher? Is it even about the United States of America being the land of the free? In many ways yes it is, but my reflections have taken me to a deeper meaning, a deeper purpose that, I believe, transcends any of that. I believe that today is about more than Martin Luther King, Jr. I believe that today is about more than a dark segment of American History. I believe that today is about more than civil rights and I believe that Dr. King would agree with me.
As a teacher of Civil War history, I could pinpoint the fact that while slavery was almost an exclusively southern practice during the 19th century, racism was rampant all over the United States, north and south. I could pinpoint the fact that while the Civil War was ultimately fought to set people free, the country came up woefully short of establishing equality. I could say that Dr. King’s crusade for Civil Rights was born out of a country who fought for freedom, but failed to establish equality and it would take another 100 years for much of that equality to be established. But, I think today is bigger than that.
As a father, I hear the words of Dr. King echo. I hear a certain part of his speech roll through my mind as if it were on repeat inside of my head,“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for equality, not for himself, for he knew what he was up against. His dream was the future of his children, of all children- to be seen for who they are and who they could be. His dream was for a United States where all could rise and achieve wherever talents and hard work takes them instead of the measure of their success or failure be based on how they look. Yet, even as noble as a man’s quest for his children, I still think today is bigger than that.
You see, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a pastor. As a pastor he understood the enormity of this problem in our great nation. The enormity of this issue stretches further than an one man, further than any family, further than politics and further than a national sense of propriety. Dr. King understood that the fight for equality was a fight for the sanctity of God’s design. This fight, a fight that still rages today, is not about Republican or Democrat, the right or the left, the haves or the have nots. It is not about north or south. Today is about understanding the truth found in Genesis 1:26-27.
“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.”
We are ALL created in the image of God. Equal heirs of the Kingdom of God. Equal children of the One true King. J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in the Raleigh-Durham area of N.C., tweeted some pretty poignant words today when he said,
“Multi-racial harmony is a preview of God’s eternal kingdom, and God wants to display it first through his church.”
I am not naive to think that there will be detractors to this article. I realize some will read this and still hold on to prejudice ways and continue to convince themselves that their piety and obscure twisting of God’s Word somehow makes it okay for them to have such prejudice. But, I’d like to point out, that if you are a follower of Christ, yet still have trouble seeing other races as children of God, created in HIS image, then you are going to have a real tough time when you get to Heaven and see that Middle Eastern man sitting at the right hand of the Father.
Dr. King risked what he did, sacrificed what he had, and ultimately paid the price with his life because he understood God’s design for all of humanity. There is only one race, the human race and anything or anybody treated to contrary doesn’t understand God’s Design for His creation. Today is about more than civil rights. It was a dream, a God-given, God-inspired dream of a Baptist pastor who stood up for scripture and God’s design for all of us. Thank you Dr. King- well done, good and faithful servant.
In Christ Alone,
Rev. Bro. Coach.