Over 53 years after Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “I have a dream speech…” and we are celebrating another Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on the third Monday in January. Although this year it does not seem as celebratory amidst the circumstances that our great nation faces. The peaceful and loving leadership the Rev. King seems a little soured this year by the political unrest with John Lewis and over twenty democratic senators refusing to go the Trump inauguration this Friday as well as the shootings that have occurred this year in the name of racism. There are some on both sides.
Who’s fault is it? That is a “loaded” question (yes that’s a gun pun). I dare not even attempt to answer that question but I will say there is likely enough blame to go around for all of us. No judgment here, only God can judge a man’s heart and decided if there is room for improvement in that category. Instead of placing blame and attempting to answer my own question I would like to pose a solution by someone that this student pastor admires and is a fan of all people, JESUS.
- Jesus interacted with and befriended all types of people. He made friends and often ate with the “sinners and tax collectors” (R.I.P. IRS, you got your own level of “low” back in Jesus day). He saw many people that society rejected; Gentles, an adulterous woman, and a Samaritan woman who was working on husband number six. Even those mixed up religious leaders who thought that they had all the answered and were very judgmental in some cases. Even though he knew all about them, he still gave them the time of day.
- Jesus “turned the other cheek” when others said and did things to him. Don’t miss this, this is big. Jesus taught and lived that when someone does you wrong, you don’t get revenge, you don’t return the favor back to them, you “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:38-42). A slap in the face to a Jewish person was the ultimate insult because mankind is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). “Love your enemies,” “pray for those who persecute you,” and his other teachings could really change the way we respond to others, if we would only follow Jesus’s teaching.
Sadly, many would rather reply back to a blog post with anger, join a twitter war, or even worse shot and kill someone on the other side. As I drove home today from the store I heard about a shooting that took place in Miami at a celebration for Rev. King. Not to mention the police officers that have been targeted by revenge seeking individuals as well. Sadly, this is a two-way street.
- Jesus died for one human race. All colors, ages, economic status, nationalities, and any other ways we may choose to divide ourselves. Reminder, we are all created in the image of God and we all bare the responsibility to value the life of all people. The very first words we have recorded from Jesus on the cross are “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Goals! If Jesus can forgive the people who are killing, maybe we can muster up the same words to someone who calls us a name, misjudges us, or just outright doesn’t get it.
This doesn’t mean we have to all agree on everything and recognize other people’s opinions as correct, but we can act and speak responsibility toward one another in love and have good discussions in the way the Rev. King did following his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are not responsible for what others do or say, but we can control what we say and do and we are ultimately responsible for ourselves. Refuse to play the childish games and pick up the mud to toss back at someone else. Think about what you post on social media and if their might be a better way to phrase your thoughts. Pause, and wait until you calm down before you respond. Be proactive instead of reactive.
Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments below on how we can pull this human race back together. We’ll give everyone a pass through today, January 16, but for the rest of the year work on what you will do and say to honor the One that Rev. King did.