As many of us were able to take the day off yesterday to celebrate MLK day, I took a few minutes to pause and reflect about the life of this amazing man. It all started for me on Sunday evening as Leah and I sat in front of the television to watch the movie “The Butler” with Forrest Whitaker. The movie portrays a man who served as the butler to the President from Eisenhower to Regan. Of course, it was during these Administrations that our countries race relations were at their worst . The movie traced how the butler slowly influenced and was infuenced by the people of the day from the Presidents to the other major political players of the day including Dr. King. As we watched, Leah and I both felt the pain the African Americans were feeling as they were misreated, beaten and even killed by methods that this blogger doesn’t even want to mention. Their lone voice of hope was Dr. Martin Luther King. As I watched the actor in the movie portray this icon of American history I began to be intriqued by this great man. What made him tick, what drove him, how was he able to control himself to be able to speak with such power and hope in the midst of a conflict that was so brutal and unfair. How was it that he was able to control his emotions, in situtaions where most of us (including myself) would have buckled under pressure and resorted to retaliation and revenge for our people. I was reminded of the verse in Matthew where Jesus said “…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”(Luke 6.45) So I sought to read some of the highlights of his speeches. Of course that includedsome magnificent quotes from the most noted “I have a dream” speech in Washington DC. But there were other quotes that stuck in my mind that were just as, if not more, revealing of this man’s character and heart. Here are just a few that caught my attention.
“Faith is about taking the first step, even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
“Life’s most persistent question is, what are you doing for others”
and then there were two that I really could not stop thinking about:
“The end of life is not to be happy nor to achieve pleasure and avoid pain, but to do the will of God, come what may”
“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude”
I have really allowed those tho last two quotes to soak within my mind and in doing so have searched the deeps passages of my own thoughts and discovered that Mr. King was right. Although these quotes are from two totally different speeches and are unrelated, they both describe what made Mr. King tick….Jesus! These thoughts are not original to him, they came from Jesus. They may not be word for word with a verse to back them up, but you can definitely see Jesus within these words. Like when Jesus was in the Garden and He prayed not His will, but the Father’s, or when He was on the cross and he prayed “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. What about all of those people that Jesus forgave, that we would have written off, or held a grudge against them becuase of how they have wronged us? No, Mr. King had Jesus within his heart, and that is what came out of his mouth. Paul tells us to “let this mind be in you that was also in Chirst Jesus” (Philippians 2.5). As we all reflect on yesterday and remember the great sacrifice that Mr.King gave for our our country and the civil rightsmovement, let’s take it a step futher and look at Mr. King as he modeled his life after that of our Savior. Oh I know he wasn’t perfect, and whether or not he will be in heaven I cannot know, for it is Christ who judges. But I can know by the man’s fruit of his lips, he understood that true happiness is not pleasure and our happiness. True happiness comes in forgiving others who wrong us and doing the will of God regardless of our circumstances.