Yesterday was the day in America when we remember Martin Luther King, Jr. and what he taught us through his life, what he preached and lived and fought and died for. He taught us about justice for all, about the equality of every human being with every other human being, about showing mercy to the oppressed and abused. He lived out the ideal of loving those who hate us. He showed us how to forgive those who persecute us and to respond non-violently to those who try to hurt us. He modeled how beautiful and enriching it can be when we get to know, appreciate, bond with and love someone who is different from us – at least on the outside – but has the same human, tender, “love-needing” heart on the inside. And he demonstrated how powerful it can be when we come together across all lines previously dividing us to live in solidarity and true community against the forces of darkness and evil.
MLK day is a good day. A day to contemplate and remember and pray for enough healing and strength in our own hearts to live this path of peace taught to us by Dr. King…and of course, taught to us first by Jesus of Nazareth Himself.
All of that, I love. But let me tell you what I hate and what drives me nuts and in fact, the older I get what makes me sick to my stomach. Going on Facebook and seeing everyone and his brother post a picture of Dr. King and a quote from Dr. King and then some pious drivel about how they think this wonderful thought about Dr. King and that wonderful thought about what he taught us and blah, blah, blah, blah. I want to puke. I’m getting too old for the talk. I want to see some action.
And you’re absolutely right. I don’t really know what’s going on inside the hearts and lives of those who are posting. God is their judge just as He is mine. But this is my suspicion. If half of us who are posting were living out what we say we believe about what Dr. King taught – we would see a different world. We would see more folks intentionally working hard to heal from the inner prejudices we all carry around in our hearts. We would see more folks intentionally working to reach out in true relationship to those not like them. We would see more folks intentionally working to forgive those who have hurt them. And we would especially see the church of Jesus Christ intentionally working to be less homogenized, less insular, less judgmental…passionately doing whatever the heck it takes to make the body of Jesus a place for all people. Because Jesus, Dr. King’s Jesus, loved and died for all…the…people.
Seriously, how can we claim to be all about our brother Martin Luther King – let alone our Savior Jesus – and go week after week to our all white, all black, all Hispanic, all Asian, all rich, all poor, all middle-class, all anything churches without ever once thinking – “it’s not supposed to be this way and it’s got to stop”. Jesus was crucified to break down the walls and end the madness so that the way we live in peace with one another shouts to the world “you don’t have to be afraid and hate anymore – you can come home to one another because our God has healed our wounds and your wounds through His Christ.”
Facebook posts, pious words and wishful thinking won’t heal the relational bleeding the enemy has foisted upon the human race for thousands and thousands of years. It takes intentionality. It takes work. It will take a whole lot of folks who are willing to go to their own Birmingham jail or to be sprayed with our generation’s version of a wounding fire hose. I believe it is going to take a whole lot more of us who are willing to die.