Back to the Mountaintop, MLK Jr. We Rise Up.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a preacher?
I thought he was a civil rights leader?
I was asking these questions earlier this year, and sure, I felt guilty. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most influential people of history and I should know more about his story. How can a Christian preacher make an impact to the entire world?
I was sitting in a class on the ethical leadership of MLK Jr. at Boston University School of Theology as a prospective student, a classroom where MLK Jr. studied as a graduate student and completed his doctorate degree in systematic theology. The presence of his legacy started to dawn on me when we talked about his notorious Letter from Birmingham Jail. The letter was in response to a newspaper article he was given from an ally. The article featured a statement called, A Call for Unity, written by eight white Alabama clergymen in which they called for civil rights activists to take up negotiations in courts, rather than through protest.
If you saw this article by the clergymen, would you respond?
Human instinct is to flee from danger. In this case, if you are a white male and you went against the grain, you would be mocked. If you are an African-American male, you could be lynched. Who has the incentive to make movement during a situation where it appears to be lose-lose?
If you decide to respond, how will you?
MLK Jr. thought differently, he showed his character as an intentional and educated man that knew there was a better way. He wrote his letter back, meeting the clergy men where they came from, through pen and paper. He communicated so they could hear his message and also challenged the clergy men’s rational because there is a better solution. There is no time to wait for the courts, these are God-given rights that must be solved on the ground.
“Justice too long delayed, is justice denied.” – Chief Justice Earl Warren, 1958
Jesus broke the law, when he declared Himself the Son of God. Righteousness was made clear through Christ and He empowers us to be just and righteous in the world.
“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.” – Psalm 89:14
The Spirit breaks the power of the laws in place. When we call on the Spirit, we become the spirit of the world. MLK Jr. was in a jail cell, but this response would impact the future of the civil rights movement, the South, and the Church. His hopeful and resistance spirit broke walls for years to come.
No matter who you are, where you come from, or what makes you different than someone else, the cause is greater than yourself. During this time of great inequality in our country, now is the time to step out for the truth. Justice is our duty as people of America and citizens of the world.
April 4th, 2018 marked the 50th year remembrance of MLK Jr.’s assassination. Wherever you are, join me and take a stand for the responsibility we have as human beings.