Slowly, I have realized that I do not have to be qualified to do what I am asked to do – instead I just have to go ahead and do, even if I can’t do it as well as I think it should be done. This is one of the most liberating lessons of my life.
The qualifications needed for God’s work are very different from those of the world. In fact, when we begin to think we are qualified, we have already fallen for the wiles of the world. Not one of us has to be qualified in order to employ lesson, meditation, to read, to think, and to pray over Scripture. We do not need a theological education (though I do appreciate mine) or to have taken courses in Bible in or out of college. We do, however, have to willing to open ourselves to the power of the living Word and that sometimes can be frightening.
“God does not call the qualified; God qualifies the called.”
On this day, when we set aside a holiday in honor of the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr., I thought it would be helpful to share the rule of life by which he lived. We often remember people, and rightly so, for the work of their life. But that work is usually a fruit of their way of life.
Martin Luther King, Jr. and his rule of life:
- Meditate daily on the teachings and life of Jesus.
- Remember always that the nonviolent movement in Birmingham seeks justice and reconciliation, not victory.
- Walk and talk in the manner of love, for God is love.
- Pray daily to be used by God in order that all might be free.
- Observe with both friend and foe the ordinary rules of courtesy.
- Seek to perform regular service for others and the world.
- Refrain from violence of fist, tongue, or heart.
- Strive to be in good spiritual and bodily health.
- Follow the directions of the movement and the captain of a demonstration.
What convictions and practices guide your life day-by-day, week-by-week and month-by-month? How would you write such a rule of life for yourself in this new year?
I heard yesterday that today marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a federal holiday but it wasn’t until 11 years ago that all 50 states marked the day. I am saddened by this fact because we live in one of the most diverse countries on earth and yet we are divided in many ways. The rhetoric of the past few weeks in the aftermath of the Tucson shooting show more than ever how divided we are politically but what about in other ways.
My seminary is in Memphis and to me, Memphis appears to be one of the most divided cities as far as race goes. Whether you want to be aware of race or not, it is there front and center. You are conscious of your race and the races of those around you. I personally am not color blind but race does not matter to me. I see race and I embrace it. We all have cultural heritage that comes from our ancestors and that culture is part of our race. However, the culture stops at some point and we are all people – the same people – God’s people – and that is where things become problematic. There are those who have developed assumptions about people of certain races and those assumptions become beliefs and thus we have people who believe that certain races are inferior. Jesus came to save all of us and to reach all of humanity not just a certain race (oh and by the way, Jesus was not white). This is evident in Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan:
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” –Luke 10:30-27 (NIV)
Maybe I am looking at this from a simplistic point of view but imagine what would happen if we should mercy and respect to everyone. Christians tend not to do this. Christians tend to judge people and view them through lenses that I don’t understand. It is to the point that some days I don’t want to call myself a Christian but rather “of Christ”. I am a follow of Christ but I find myself differing from the views of some Christians. I do not believe that we should be judging others – saved or not, straight or not, white or not, hispanic or not, male or female – but looking at how we can serve our brothers and sisters because we are all brothers and sisters through our connection to creation and creation’s connection to God. We are all part of God’s creation and therefore doesn’t God love all of creation?
So as we honor the memory of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. we have to ask how we can keep his dream alive. I believe there are several ways that we can do this in our daily lives.
- We need to view each and every person as God’s child – the same as we are. We are all equal and deserve the same respect. This is one of those cases where we need to give respect to get respect.
- We need to give back to our community in some way. Volunteer at a local shelter, church, organization, or agency that is working to better the lives of everyone in the community. Do it more than once.
- Make an impact in some way. We can live our life and take or we can live our life and give. I prefer to leave the world a bit better than the way I found it.
The dream is not yet here. I believe the dream will be part of the ultimate coming of the Kingdom of God but yet we can work to make the dream better today. Let’s stand up and demand that intolerance stop for everyone.
In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, since you are Christ’s family, then you are Abraham’s famous “descendant,” heirs according to the covenant promises. –Galatians 3:28-29 (The Message)