Everyone and their brother has been doing their obligatory tributes to Reverand Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. However, this one (from todays Pioneer Press written by William Chafe) hit it home for me. So many people, when talking about Dr. King totally forget the driving force behind his actions and reactions. Not so Mr. Chafe (emphasis added):
That legacy begins with the power of King's faith, which became searingly personal when, soon after agreeing to become the spokesman for the Montgomery bus boycott, he began receiving nightly phone calls from people threatening to kill his family. Unable to sleep and tormented by visions of his little girl suffering, King broke down one night in his kitchen. As David Garrow writes in his biography of King, at that moment King heard an inner voice saying: "Stand up for justice, stand up for truth… [It was] the voice of Jesus saying still to fight on. He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone." From that moment forward, the voice in the kitchen was King's personal anchor.
That's right, all of you secular humanists, the Reverend Dr. King was a man of God and it was his great faith and reliance on Christ's strength that got him through the hardest of trials! As a Christian, the Rev. Dr. King knew that there were 2 things that he had to stand on in this fight...love and justice!
The second point to recognize is the tension King insisted upon between his embrace of the New Testament's gospel of unconditional love and the Old Testament's prophetic insistence on righteous justice. Latter-day King celebrants focus on his support for reconciliation without acknowledging his prophetic anger. "It is not enough for us to talk about love," he told his followers. "There is another side called justice … Standing beside love is always justice. Not only are we using the tools of persuasion — we've got to use the tools of coercion."
This "tension" is something that Christians must deal with daily. We all know that we are to forgive those who trespass against us (love), but we forget the "do not tresspass" part (justice). We forget that the first half of the Bible story is a story of righteousness and (when necessary) anger! I heard an interview with Jonathon Starkey (the self professed vampire that is running for Governor of Minnesota) this morning. He was saying that he could not understand how God could punish the innocents of Soddom and Gomorrah. HELLO......justice. The only innocents in those 2 cities were Lot and his family! Abraham interceeded with God (in Genesis 18:23) asking "will you destroy the righteous with the wicked?" to which God answered "find me one righteous man and I will spare the city!" (Gen 18:24-33). The same thing happened in Noah's time where Noah (while building the Ark) pleaded with his neighbors to repent! The whole time God was planning the earths destruction, he was also trying to save it. However, mans choice was to turn away from God and his offers of salvation.
Every generation, God sends us a Noah or an Abraham or a Dr. King who is supposed to show us how to walk that fine line between love and justice. I am truely honored and humbled to have been able to see the fine example that Dr. King provided to mankind. I struggle daily to try to be one to help realize his dream - when our children are indeed judged by the content of their hearts and not the color of their skin! Hopefully, my contributions will help us (in the words of the Mr. Chafe) "... remember the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., let us recognize the full depth of his faith and vision — not just the antiseptic version that has now become part of our official culture."