Monday, January 15, 2007

Martin Luther King Day

Martin Luther King Day is observed today, in the United States. I grew up not really understanding or appreciating who this man really was. In fact being suspicious of his intentions. And little understanding the radical racial divide that was a part of our nation at that time.

Now, years later, I am glad to say that I have a deep respect and admiration for this man. I believe he was one of our most important leaders of the twentieth century. A man who had embraced a vision of the kingdom of God come in Jesus. A vision that was, on the one hand, color blind. But on the other hand loved people of every color. A vision of peace that meant no violence, but more than that. People of all ethnicities and backgrounds, living together, hand in hand, as one. One human race.

Do we still need the vision he had today? This vision will always be needed. A continued need for healing is present, now. Both for African Americans who have been the victims of slavery and prejudice in our nation. And also for us perpetrators and occupants, whose souls have been deadened by our participation in and compliance to this sin.

I have noticed African American bloggers who have challenged the likes of me to really begin to understand the world in which they live. To really begin to see the Story in Scripture in terms of their story, and not merely in terms of my own, Caucasian American experience.

I think a key in doing this is to read, but much more than that, to really begin to relate, or develop relationships with others from different backgrounds. Really taking them into our hearts and lives, not just here and there, away from the safety of our homes. Starting where we're at. In simple ways. Reaching out. Listening. Learning. Letting our lives be impacted by this exchange. And hopefully seeing it grow, more and more. Towards the community our Lord prayed for. That we all might be one in this world, as he is one with the Father, that the world might see, and believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, sent from the Father.

In what ways have we failed to see and live out the vision of the kingdom of God come in Jesus, that would impact the continuing divide of "races" and cultures? How can we help others, and let them help us- to be "at home" and one, with each other?

6 comments:

andre said...

Ted

I tried posting a comment on your blog last week on the topic of the Lord's prayer but apparently it didn't take. I found your blog via LL Barkat. I love your Christ centered emphasis on many of your posts.

With regard to race, a couple of points.

Race in this nation isn't just about black & white anymore...it's rapidly multicultural and I think it's a good thing. The discussion needs to extend beyond the historical divide.

Also, I think the church has a wonderful opportunity to paint a compelling picture for the rest of the world. Race relations is something that the world cares about but cannot solve. I posted on this recently on my blog. One way to do this is by the biblical practice of hospitality - "the welcoming of strangers". It doesn't seem profound or strategic but somehow we communicate volumes by welcoming others of a different race into our homes and lives.

Charity Singleton said...

I like andre's thoughts on practicing hospitality regarding this issue. This seems to capture a couple of important biblical principles -- it doesn't deny our cultural/racial differences, which are gifts. And yet it reinforces the equality of the gospel message, the desire for unity under the "one cross, one spirit, one church."

I also think we need to start where we are with the issue of reconciliation. I heard a great essay on NPR this morning from a white woman who is trying to not even notice race. She admitted that she still sees color when she looks at people, and that though she doesn't respond negatively to people of other colors, she find that she does respond differently. I thought it was a good admission.

Ted Gossard said...

Andre, Thanks for your kind words and comment. I think you make a great point. It is not just a black, white thing, but multi-racial nowdays.

I still must give some special attention, though, I think on this day, to the black/white issues, because I know Christian African Americans who are still either personally hurt by other Christians, or who believe there is still discrimination against them. And there are still hate groups out there, against African Americans.

I believe there is a great healing that needs to take place, because of this, and our history as a nation.

Your point of welcoming strangers, as in being hospitable to people of other races, etc., is also an excellent one, I didn't even think of today, until you mentioned it. What better "down to earth" way of really getting to know the other, and come to know them as one of us? People whom we can deeply come to love.

Ted Gossard said...

Charity, Great points. I think it is easy to say and believe the creed, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said:

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

Easy to say we believe that. But another matter in really living it out. One of our best admissions is to acknowledge that in many ways, we just don't get it. We really don't understand, and we need to learn.

I'll have to listen to that from NPR when I have time. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Is the true message we are meant to hear from the good Doctor limited to race? Is it really that limited in scope? Though a Hispanic living in the skin of a Caucasion, it seems to me that Jesus' message (given to us by the Honorable MLK) was directed at discrimination on all levels. To be sure, discrimination manifests itself usually in terms of race. As a war rages on, however, I cannot help but believe that we must also focus on relations with Muslims. We must examine our internal barometers of love to evaluate whether there is room in the inn for those we do not understand. For those we may even, well, fear.

Aahhh, what Paul must have felt as he traveled foreign soil.

May our Lord help us reach beyond the plain meaning of Doctor King's message, so that we open our hearts to the possibility of truly accepting the concept, at least in our hearts, that all men are created equal.

Ted Gossard said...

anon,

Good points. Yes. As Andre points out, also, this has application, really, for all our relationships. That all walls would come down, in Christ. In Christ this will happen completely someday, and the beginning of it is meant to be now.