Cuz We Love Martin
When you consider Martin Luther King, Jr., chances are good that the initial thing that comes to mind are his grants as a civil rights activist, and it’s little wonder why. Odds are also good that some of the words from his famous I Have a Dream speech surface in your mind from time to time. Although those words were first said over 50 years ago, the ideas he gave voice to are timeless and powerful.
He imagined a world so different from the one he lived in and committed his time and energy to working for adjustment. It’s not easy to read these words and not be moved by their beauty and truth:
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the real significance of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to become self-evident, that all men are created equal.’
I have a vision that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will have the chance to sit down together at the table of brotherhood…
I have a dream that my four kids will one day live in a nation where they will not be condemned by the color of their skin but by the content of their personality…
I have a dream that… one day… in Alabama little black girls and black boys will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as brothers and sisters.”
Martin’s words motivate a greater brotherhood, kindness, and respect among all people. They prompt one to consider the idea that character is the only formula that truly matters, and that hostility can give solution to peace.
While he is identified and respected for his work as a great civil rights leader, his function as a faithful religious leader is often overlooked. Apart from tenaciously working for social change, he was also enthusiastic about his faith. Abiding by in the footsteps of those who came before him, he became a pastor and worked to motivate others through sharing God’s word.
In an article on pbs.org (http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/2006/01/13/january-13-2006-martin-luther-king-jr-as-pastor/1788/), Professor Lewis Baldwin (Professor of Religious Studies and Director of African American Studies at Vanderbilt University) said this:
“Many labels were connected to him during his lifetime. He was known as a civil rights activist; he was called a social activist, a social change agent, a world figure. I think he thought of himself first and foremost as a preacher, as a Christian pastor.”
This is an assertion that makes sense, mirroring what it says in Proverbs 23:7: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” His beliefs motivated his diligent work, despite opposition and persecution that ultimately cost him his life when he was assassinated on April 4, 1968. He devoted his life to working for changes we desperately needed to see in this nation, but he did so while treating others with respect.
“In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our crave freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must eternally facilitate our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not authorize our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Repeatedly, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.”
If everyone made a conscious effort to live like that, what a different world it would be!
Neglecting the fact that MLK Jr. was a churchman is to be blind to the fact that his views were a driving force in all that he did. Along with becoming a widely-known public figure, he was something else long before that: a church leader, seeking to elevate, teach, and look after his flock.
The work of church pastors is still valued and important today. And even though creeds and beliefs vary, we are united by a brotherhood and sisterhood above the differences that divide us. The work that churches do is necessary, and we love being able to witness this work in individual congregations as we provide transportation for church groups. Whether you need help getting the choir to a community event, need to transport a youth group to an event, or need to shuttle groups at a local social work project, we ‘d love to be there to assist you!