Today, in the United States, we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr Day. He wasn’t just a great American, he was a great man who spoke all over the world about love and hope. Hopefully, no matter what country you are reading this in, you know about Martin Luther King Jr. This quote came to my inbox last week and I thought that it should be shared today. He said, “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”
Every day that goes by I seem to find it harder to simply tolerate the nonsense that I see on TV or hear about on the radio. Being in politics, I struggle to “hold my tongue” when I hear about the crazy things that state and national elected people do. As the old saying goes, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then say nothing at all”. So, I remain silent. I’m one of these weird people who often look for the middle ground on issues and work to get things done. Peace among people is where we need to start. When individual people can’t agree or get along, peace is impossible. Dr. King is suggesting that we start with truth and love – something we are lacking in this day and age. Peace opens creativity, which allows people to feel free to exchange ideas and a willingness to collaborate with each other. Go out and make peace!
Romans 12:18 – “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
The bible teaches us to live in peace with one another and love your neighbor as yourself. Living this way allows us to reflect God’s love by loving each other and it makes all of our social interactions easier too. How better for Christians to show love than by living in peace? This is the message of the verse; “as far as it depends on you”. It all depends on you; how you react to a situation or how you create a situation.
We are taught to “stick up for ourselves” and not be bullied. We’re not taught to avoid conflict simply to live at peace. Conflict can be good and healthy for relationships. We should try to find common ground, work out the differences and keep our focus on the issue not the person. If you’re having a difficult conversation, start by making it safe for everyone, stay focused on the issue and how it makes you feel rather than what you think the other person is saying. This is not a time for assumptions. By living in harmony, we live by God’s word and show others that as God so loved the world, so can we.
Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day and this morning I will be attending a presentation about his life. One of the local senior groups hosts a wonderful tribute to a great man. I must admit that I knew little about him before attending these events but I have come to understand more than the civil rights fight that he undertook. He wouldn’t accept the status quo; he wouldn’t back down against great pressure nor would he compromise his beliefs. He spoke to millions of people all around the world, a simple message – we are all one people. Lately in the news there have been reports of Christians being persecuted in a number of places around the world standing up for their beliefs. In schools and movie theaters people turn to violence to solve their differences or solve their conflicts. Martin Luther King Jr. fought against violence and took a stand to resolve the differences in a non-violent way; though not everyone supported that strategy. His speeches were moving and his understanding of the issues was extraordinary yet many agree his work remains unfinished. He used his talents to change the world. Most of us will never reach the stature of Dr. King but we can have a huge impact on the world around us. Each of us has God given talents that we can use to impact those in our lives. Sometimes people are in our lives for a brief moment, like in line at the grocery store and others are people we’ve known for years but we have the opportunity to model the same beliefs that Dr. King did, good Christian values.
“For in Him you have been enriched in every way – in all your speaking and in all your knowledge…” 1 Corinthians 1:5
I met with a friend the other day who was sharing a problem that he was having. It was serious and will have life long implications for him. As he described his problem he said that he has done a lot things in his life and that he didn’t feel “right with God yet and as long as I’m not right with Him, I can’t be right with anyone”. This statement stopped me dead in my tracks; how could someone who professes to be a Christian say something like that? I seized the opportunity to speak my knowledge about our savior, Christ Jesus. I reminded him that he was already “right with God” because of what Jesus did for us Easter weekend. 1 Corinthians 1:7-9 goes on to say “7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gifts as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God, who has called you into fellowship with His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.” We lack nothing; there is nothing we can do or must do to be “right with God”. He knew our weaknesses long before we did and sent us a savior so He could enjoy eternal life with us. God decided we were worth it long before we could do anything to prove it to Him. Send your grief, your guilt and your anger to God, He wants to take away the sin of this world and those things that stand in the way of your relationship with Him.
This week noted the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous, “I Have a Dream Speech.” One of the awesome benefits of being an elected official is that you are exposed to a wide range of experiences and information. Each year, various groups in our West Valley celebrate MLK Day with some type of program and they invite their elected officials. This year we attended a program hosted by a group in an Active Adult Community who call themselves “Just Folks”. They bring in young African American high school and college kids to speak about what Martin Luther King Jr. means to them. In a printed litany, they quoted from a sermon he delivered on August 11, 1957.
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘what are you doing for others?’ An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow horizons of his particular individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. Every person must decide at some point, whether they will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
We have all benefited from the deeds and sacrifices of those before us. They left a mark for us and now it is our responsibility to make contributions for the greater good. The freedoms we enjoy, the privileges we have as free citizens have all come at cost to someone. Have you ever thought about the legacy that you will leave? We might not be in the national spotlight but we can always make a difference right where we are.
“A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” – Proverbs 11:25
God has given us all great talents, not for our own benefit but for the benefit of others. God never wanted us to be selfish or alone; He wanted us in fellowship with each other. If we have talents, God has given us enough to share. If you Google “Spiritual Gifts” you will find a number of resources to help you determine what gifts you have and how you can use them. Once you know how God has gifted you, you can start sharing them with others. Living the example of Jesus is pleasing to God and will make a difference in someone’s life. Sure, a difference for one person might not seem like a big deal but what if that person goes on to make a difference for 1000 people and then one of them goes on to make a difference for millions. Like dropping a rock in the water, the single act can send waves that are immeasurable.