Never be afraid of what is right

Reflections on Martin Luther King

Jan 19, 2015 by

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Martin Luther King Day, which commemorates King’s birthday, is one of those days that I think should be celebrated throughout the world. It is a day used to promote equal rights for all Americans, though I like to expand that to consider it as a day to promote equal rights for all people. And it seems to me that there is no better time to consider this than now. The protests in Ferguson last year, the bombings in France and the growing militancy of extremist groups, the ongoing challenges of injustice, oppression and indifference in so many areas of life all show us that justice is something we still need to work toward.

Here are three quotes from King’s speeches that I found very compelling this morning:

The great problem facing modern man is that, that the means by which we live have outdistanced the spiritual ends for which we live. So we find ourselves caught in a messed-up world. The problem is with man himself and man’s soul. We haven’t learned how to be just and honest and kind and true and loving. And that is the basis of our problem. The real problem is that through our scientific genius we’ve made of the world a neighborhood, but through our moral and spiritual genius we’ve failed to make of it a brotherhood. — “Rediscovering Lost Values,” sermon delivered at Detroit’s Second Baptist Church (Feb. 28, 1954).

Today I would probably say we have failed to become a global community, but the sentiment is still the same. We are more closely connected than ever through the internet, yet less concerned about the needs of others.

We must discover the power of love, the power, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that we will be able to make of this old world a new world. We will be able to make men better. Love is the only way.

Probably my favorite quote of all is this one:

Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.

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King

When we don’t do what is right and trust our God for provision but rely instead on the values of greed, exploitation and oppression, evil does indeed take over. We have seen it in the enslavement and genocide of peoples. We have seen it in the confiscation of native lands. And we have seen it in the destruction of the earth’s animals and habitats. 2014 was one of the warmest on record, yet most of us rationalize our overconsumption and indifference to the depletion of the world’s resources.

Surely there has never been a better time to refuse to look the other way. All of us need to do what is right for those who are still oppressed and marginalized in our world. We need to do what is right to reduce emissions and reduce our consumption to contribute our small bit to the fight against climate change.

As King suggests, our souls suffer along with our bodies and our world when we do not do what is right. The only way to change that is with the love of God. This year I am making reconciliation the theme of my blog — not just racial and cultural reconciliation, but reconciliation in all its dimensions — within ourselves, to God, to humanity and to God’s creation.

I pray that today all of us will catch a fresh glimpse of God’s incredible shalom kingdom in which all humanity is set free, creation is restored and we all live together in peace, harmony and mutual concern once more interacting with God in the ways God originally intended.

May we dream of a world made new,
Where all of us do what is right.
Where together we shout for justice,
And as one we fight for freedom.
May we dream of a world made new,
Where all of us do what is right.
Where together we seek God’s righteousness
And as one we sing God’s praise.
May we dream of a world made new,
Where all of us do what is right.
Where together we climb God’s mountain,
And as one we enter the promised land.
May we dream of a world made new,
Where all of us do what is right.
Where together we proclaim the good news of God’s kingdom,
And as one we enjoy its peace, abundance and love.

Amen.

Christine Sine is executive director of Mustard Seed Associates, a small organization founded by her and her husband, Tom Sine, to assist churches and Christian organizations to engage the challenges of the 21st century. She writes at God Space, where this post originally appeared.


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