Martin Luther King Jr. did arguably more for human rights than any modern-day man. In his 1967 Southern Christian Leadership Conference speech, Dr. King asked, “Where do we go from here?”
Dr. King argued that if we are to address the grave problems of racism, economic exploitation, and war, then we must recognize they are interconnected. He used the story of Jesus and Nicodemus (a Jewish leader and influential Pharisee) to illustrate how to tackle those problems. He said that Jesus didn’t tell Nicodemus to make specific changes in his life to be saved. Jesus said, “Nicodemus, you must be born again.” In other words, your whole structure and thinking must change. We must follow God’s way over our own.
So today, as we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King, let’s remember our path to a more just and equal society lies in spiritual rebirth. To seek God’s way over our own, which is self-centered and robs us of the capacity to tune into and attend to others. Jesus’s greatest commandment speaks to this and is found in Matthew 22: 36-40: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Thank you, Martin Luther King Jr, for pointing us to victory—to God’s better way for the impossible problems in our world and the personal ones we face every day.
This post is reprinted partly from Chris Stearns, January 6, 2023, Stearns Reflects on MLK’s words, “Auburn Examiner.”
To learn more about Marin Luther King’s most profound insights about life, good and evil, and Christian faith in the heat of conflict and struggle, please read “Strength to Love.” It is a template for personal authenticity when social and economic change depends on personal integrity.