Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a day set aside for us to remember and honor the achievements and the values that Dr. King stood for. But who are we truly honoring? What man are we remembering? Many times our national agenda is filled with holes, or the characters and stories are lifted out of context in order to promote another agenda, and this is certainly the case with Dr. King.
The truth is, you cannot separate King from Christ. The goals that he pursued and the methods he used to pursue them were all shaped by a desire to not only worship but to imitate Jesus Christ in a divided America. King was martyred not because he was a politically correct mascot. King was martyred because he was a disciple who was following counter-cultural principles espoused by Jesus Christ.
Some of these principles were:
Love for one’s enemies. King’s non-violent method of protest was based on the methods of Gandhi. The method was Gandhi’s, but the message was Christ’s. King found the method, but he rooted it in a Christian love ethic straight out of pages of the Sermon on the Mount:
"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." Matthew 5:39-48
Anti-racism, -materialism, and -militarism. King knew that these “isms” were connected and
were in opposition to Jesus’ kingdom. He saw how racism, materialism, and militarism were an evil trinity that corrupted mankind and gave his life to fighting against them. Jesus spoke out against these evils as well. Jesus’ parable of the rich fool as a warning against greed is a full on attack against materialism. His praise of Gentile faith flies in the face of racism. His blessing of the meek and declaration of their reward is the opposite of power hungry military might. King and Jesus were on the same page against racism, materialism, and militarism.
Although the Christian past is littered with examples of religious fanatics who used the Bible to oppress and subjugate people today, let’s remember Martin Luther King Jr. as one who chose to follow Jesus with a vision of equality and liberation for all. He was more than a mascot for a kumbayah circle of tolerance. He was a drum major for justice marching to the rhythm of Jesus the King