Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. day. And depending on your disposition, this is either a day to remember a key figure in the Civil Rights movement, and his inspirational “I have a dream” speech, or this could be the day that’s an inconvenience because banks and other government buildings (and some schools) are closed in observance of someone you could care less about. For the record, I view Martin Luther King, Jr. as an inspiration, less because of what he said, but because he was a very flawed individual who none-the-less acted on the faith that he needed to speak out on matters of justice and freedom, not just for one segment of America, but for all of humanity.
On the Relevant Magazine site, there’s an article with 15 MLK quotes that I was browsing before work this morning, and one of them I found rather interesting:
“I imagine that the first question the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But by the very nature of his concern, the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’ The good Samaritan engaged in a dangerous altruism.”
See, I’ve been going through the entire book of Matthew recently. That’s the one Gospel of Jesus where you can find a lot of rather convicting statements made by Jesus, not just to the religious people, but to everyone who would listen to Him. And the stuff He says runs so counter to the ideologies of what the world says, it’s easy to see why He was considered, among other things, a dangerous radical in His day.
And the sociopolitical climate back then really wasn’t as different as it is today, really. While the world is shouting “Eye for an eye!”, Jesus proclaimed that we needed to turn the other cheek after being struck, so that they can strike the other one. When the world is shouting, “Do not infringe on my rights!”, Jesus told us that, when someone forces you to walk with them for a mile, go with them an extra mile. And when the world is shouting, “Don’t show love to someone who won’t show you love back!”, Jesus said that we should show love and compassion to everyone, regardless of whether or not they’ll show it back.
That last part, there, is probably the biggest hot-button statement today, considering what’s been going on these past few months, with the Muslim population and the refugees, and the majority of those identifying as Christians on their social medias saying to keep ’em out. After all, Muslims would never take in Christian refugees, and some of them might be terrorists trying to sneak in.
I’m torn, really. On the one hand, I understand the fear and desire to protect yourself and your family for any potential danger, speculation or not. On the other hand, as I take my faith rather seriously, I am obligated to show compassion and love to all people, not just those who share my same ideology or world view. I am fearful of coming to harm by those who would repay my kindness with evil; on the other hand, Jesus did say that we shouldn’t fear humans, who can only kill the body, but instead Father God, who can destroy our souls as well.
So, really, I understand that I am commanded, as someone who proclaims to be a follower of Christ Jesus, to follow His commandments as such. I’m also not ashamed to confess that the prospect of doing so, especially in this climate of fear and uncertainty (and with the prospect of being misunderstood by my fellow Christians), terrifies me. Which means that I need to pray for courage to step out in faith. Which brings me to another Martin Luther King, Jr. quote that sticks out to me from that article:
“We must learn that to expect God to do everything while we do nothing is not faith but superstition.”