Today is a holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Honestly, I've never "celebrated" this day. I've never even given it a ton of thought.
I grew up in the south. I grew up in a pretty prejudice place. Despite the fact that my school was integrated and my life was not full of only white people, our lives were segregated. The black people in my town went to certain churches, lived in certain neighborhoods, and had their own friends. I went to one of the churches where white people went, lived in a white peoples neighborhood, and only had white little girls for friends.
Then, I moved.
I moved across the country. I lived next door to a Hispanic family. The parents spoke little English. The girl down the street came from a similar family. People in our neighborhood were from all different ethnic backgrounds. The kids at school didn't seem to notice what color someone was.
I spent the next 14 years of my life living there in the west. I struggled with my own prejudices. I had stopped going to church when we moved. When I was 14 the Lord drew me back and I gave my life to Him. I began to ask Him about a lot of things. One thing He began to teach me was about people. I realized one day as I talked to my mom that I hadn't even noticed that several people in our church had dark skin. The conversation went something like this:
Me: Well, our church here is still full of white people.
Mom: Yes, mostly. But, there are lots of people who aren't.
Me: Like who?
Mom: Martha, who greets you every week.
Me: Oh, yeah. I guess she isn't white, is she?
Mom: Kevin, who plays in the band.
Me: Oh, duh. Missed that.
Mom: name, name, name.
Me: I don't think I've ever thought about what color they were.
I think in that moment I stopped and praised God. I praised Him for the changes He had made in my heart that I no longer saw color when I looked at someone. I saw the person.
I'm not perfect. I still struggle with prejudices--not just regarding color. I cringe as I realize all the times I judge someone because of their clothing, house, smell, education, job, ....
But, this morning as I read through a few blogs, I came across my friend Heather's post about today's holiday. The following quotes brought me to tears.
my friend Heather writing:
I see the Kingdom of God in each of King's dreams. I imagine Jesus listening to this speech nodding along and saying, "Well done." I see Jesus every time I hear freedom proclaimed to the captives. He's there. Those are His words. His heart.
and this quote by Dr. King about the poor:
"God never intended for a group of people to live in superfluous, inordinate wealth while others live in abject, deadening poverty. God intends for all of His children to have the basic necessities of life, and He has left in this universe enough and to spare for that purpose. So I call upon you to bridge the gulf between abject poverty and superfluous wealth." In 1962, King preached, "I see hungry boys and girls in this nation and other nations and think about the fact that we spend more than a million dollars a day storing surplus food. And I say to myself 'I know where we can store that food free of charge - in the wrinkled stomachs of the millions of people in our nation and in this world who go to bed hungry at night.'" -- Huffington Post
How dare I not celebrate today?
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man who loved Jesus with all his heart and took bold steps to proclaim His truth to the world around him. It is right and fitting that we honor him and all the freedoms he fought for. As we honor him, let us turn our focus to Jesus, who is the freedom giver. I don't think Dr. King would want us to dwell on him. He would want us to dwell on the Gospel and the ideas of freedom he fought for. They weren't new ideas from Dr. King. They were the King of King's plan all along!