Tag Archives: Dr. King

If You Were a Dr. King, What Would You Do With It?

So, I devoted this week to Dr. King, his honor, and his unfinished business. This is the finale. The Reverend King was a once in a generation man who happened upon a once in a lifetime historical moment.  He was a man exuding with appreciation of life, the grandest will to love, and full of wisdom. We honor a hero and a lodestar for a world even more in turmoil than the one embraced and challenged by the preacher from Georgia.

Dr. King was a man who knew how to transform what was meant for evil against him into good and for the salvation for many. And when you have learned to do this personally, you can do it socially.

This is why my people were out marching and serving the community this last Monday. This is why we use our days off for a chance to serve.  Spiritual people today need to muster up a great creative and transformative force.  For there are many things, things meant for evil hundreds and hundreds of years ago that have gone untransformed.  We have a genocide on our hands of the Native Peoples who were here first.  We have a race-based slavery that has never been transformed.  It has been repealed and legislated against, but we have never gone to the mount Everest of transforming these evils.  Why are there no White Christians partnering with Native American Christians who lead their youth on mission trips for repentance atop the hundreds of trails of death in our country? Why are the museums on slavery in our country struggling in our current economy?  We must creatively find ways to transform what was meant for evil into good, for the future salvation of many. This is why our community is taking a trip to the Freedom Center in Cincinnati in February.

What do we do with the life of Dr King?  What do we do with his unfinished dream?  How do we respond like Jospeh when we face the evils of this world, when they are too big for our limits or too personal for our comfort?  What would it look like if you could become a person in a community who learned to transform what was meant for evil into the salvation of many?  How would it change your city?   How could the world be changed?  But most importantly, how could changed hearts transform your neighborhood?  We each have our own claim to the good life.  Is it impacting your neighbors?

Dr. King’s death was not in vain. It only made him stronger.  In life, he transformed his personal disappointments and social evils into the salvation for many.  In death he added his life to the ongoing accumulation of unmerited suffering, which is never in vain but not yet enough.  Are we up for the climb to Everest? Will we, after a life in the wells and prisons of our storied lives, have the grace to know that it has transformed what was meant for evil into the salvation for many?  In the end, we must, like Dr. King and ultimately like Jesus, pray earnestly for peace but also work vigorously both personally and socially for the end of wars, for brotherhood, for justice, and for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

What You Have in Common with Dr. King

So, I am devoting this week to Dr. King, his honor, and his unfinished business. The Reverend King was a once in a generation man who happened upon a once in a lifetime historical moment.  He was a man exuding with appreciation of life, the grandest will to love, and full of wisdom. We honor a hero and a lodestar for a world even more in turmoil than the one embraced and challenged by the preacher from Georgia.

You’ve got it in you.  You have the spark, which molded this magnificent man.  But how can you learn to use it?  How can we learn to become like Joseph, like Dr. King, like Jesus?  How can we become a person who, with God, transforms what was meant for evil into the salvation of many? That’s the real question.

It starts personally,  this walk to the Everest of peace, brotherhood, and justice. I think this is what our African American brothers and sisters, any group that has been historically oppressed is trying to tell us.   We can never forget the past or move past it if the type of hearts that oppressed them in the first place still beat in the chest of the masses.

Joseph displayed the transformed heart in glory with his brothers that day.  It starts with the skill that the spiritual masters have been trying to teach us for centuries: transform what was meant for evil toward you into the salvation for many.  Some call it appreciation; others call it perspective, or thankfulness.  Dr. King called it the value of unmerited suffering.  He writes, “as my sufferings mounted, I soon realized that there were two ways that I could respond to my situation: either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force…recognizing the necessity for suffering I have tried to make of it a virtue.  If only the save myself from bitterness, I have attempted to see my personal ordeals as an opportunity to transform my self and heal the people involved in the tragic situation which now obtains.”

This is perhaps the simplest and hardest work in all the universe.  Can you take your greatest disappointments, your most horrific unmerited suffering and abandon them into God’s hands?  Can you learn to let your hands loose and give to God your most cherished self-narrative and receive in return the chance to fulfill your greatest desires? If so, you begin the painful labor of your best self, full of faith, hope, and love.  This is where Dr. King’s and Jesus’ dream takes us…

Dr. King’s Recipe for Fighting Evil

So, I am devoting this week to Dr. King, his honor, and his unfinished business. The Reverend King was a once in a generation man who happened upon a once in a lifetime historical moment.  He was a man exuding with appreciation of life, the grandest will to love, and full of wisdom. We honor a hero and a lodestar for a world even more in turmoil than the one embraced and challenged by the preacher from Georgia.

Asbury’s Dr. Tennent in his recent book on Theology in Mission talks about the theology of the Son who is the archetype missionary.  “Missions,” he writes, “is placed securely within the context of revelation and response…the incarnation is the ultimate, ‘translation’ of deity into humanity.  God takes on human flesh and demonstrates how we are to live in this world.”  As God’s church we must go beyond the passive hope that someday all things will be put right.  We are to transform what was meant for evil into the salvation for many, because God transforms evil.  And Jesus shows this will require suffering.  Dr. King knew this well and embraced the path to Everest.

In his book on Love, Dr. King tries to answer this perplexing question: Why could we not cast him out, referring to the disciples who could not cast the evil out of a demon possessed boy?  King writes, “Human life through the centuries has been characterized by man’s persistent efforts to remove evil from the earth.” He goes on to reflect on the two ways in which humans usually try to remove evil. On the one hand, he writes, humans, “try to remove evil through their own power and ingenuity in the strange conviction that by thinking, inventing, and governing, he will at last conquer the nagging forces of evil.”  On the other hand, he writes, “the second idea for removing evil from the world stipulates that if man waits submissively upon the Lord, in his own good time God alone will redeem the world.” Yet, neither are God’s revelation to us nor consistent with our human experience.  Dr. King concludes, and get ready for this, because it the exact lesson we learn from Joseph. Dr. King writes, “neither God nor man will individually bring the world’s salvation.  Rather, both man and God, made one in a marvelous unity of purpose through an overflowing love as the free the gift of himself, on the part of God and by perfect obedience and receptivity on the part of man can transform the old into the new and drive out the deadly cancer of sin.”  The key, a faithfulness that can transform through suffering that which was meant for evil into the salvation for many…

Dr. King’s Unfinished Business

So, I am devoting this week to Dr. King, his honor, and his unfinished business. The Reverend King was a once in a generation man who happened upon a once in a lifetime historical moment.  He was a man exuding with appreciation of life, the grandest will to love, and full of wisdom. We honor a hero and a lodestar for a world even more in turmoil than the one embraced and challenged by the preacher from Georgia.

As I stood at Dr. King’s grave and looked back at the road I had just walked, it was as if I were at base camp of Mt. Everest looking up a the peak of peace, brotherhood, and justice and thinking “how in the world can a globe full of mere mortals make the climb?”  I thought: it will take a transformed person.  It will take a transformed community to lead the way.  But what kind of people will these be, and what will it take to complete the dream?  After all, it will be about much more than little white and black boys holding hands.  There will be pain.

And it was then that I remembered Joseph.

In chapter 50 of Genesis, Joseph benevolently looks back on his life musters up a phenomenal perspective.  His father has just died, and his brothers are worried that Joseph was sparing their lives for his father’s sake.

They are afraid of vengeance. Joseph reassures them with a prophetic word, “Don’t be afraid, am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God turned it into good to accomplish what is being done, the salvation for many.” Though Joseph was talking about his life story, the writer of Genesis really sums up the book with this phrase.  All along, from the fall to Joseph’s fall down the well and down to Egypt, God transformed what was meant for evil into the salvation for many.

And isn’t this the same thing God was doing on the cross?  This emblem of evil and violence.  This wooden cross to crucify the peasant king, the disturber of the Roman peace.  Wasn’t God transforming even then what was meant for evil into the salvation for many?  Wasn’t this sin shattering event the suffering, which both showed us the recipe for redemption and paved the way for us to even be able to walk the mountain path toward salvation and the New Creation? …

Your Honor, Dr. King

So, I am devoting this week to Dr. King, his honor, and his unfinished business. The Reverend King was a once in a generation man who happened upon a once in a lifetime historical moment.  He was a man exuding with appreciation of life, the grandest will to love, and full of wisdom. We honor a hero and a lodestar for a world even more in turmoil than the one embraced and challenged by the preacher from Georgia.

I recently visited Atlanta for the first time in my adult life.  The annual conference for biblical scholarship was swallowing me up, and I needed a day off.  So, I took to the streets and headed out for Dr. King’s memorial and place of burial.  These last years I have become somewhat of a disciple of Dr. King’s and was excited to catch a glimpse of his church and childhood home.

The journey from my posh four star hotel to the King center would take about 35 minutes.  As I turned the corner from downtown toward the I-85 Bridge, I could smell the white ginger hotel shampoo wafting off my hair mixed with that curious scent that rises from urban humanity.  The safety of the conference hall soon melted into run down neighborhoods, pawn shops, and corners where homeless men gathered.  I was the only non-black in eye’s sight. A wheel-chair bound veteran stopped me there, and I paid tin homage to a man for whom Dr. King gave his life, a man crippled by the triple evil of violence, racism, and poverty.   I was shocked. I expected the neighborhood surrounding the King center to be transformed by the vision of this Christian hero.

What would Dr. King have thought of his neighborhood now, this man who will soon have a monument built for him on the National Mall?  This man who has no less than 750 streets named for him across the nation.  This magnificent Nobel Peace Prizing man whom the children of our world cherish.  The nation for which he gave his life will forever be indebted to this man.  But how is it that the epicenter of our national memorial of Dr. King and center of his posterity should remain so backward? …