MLK Jr. & Light in the Midst of Darkness

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. “

This weekend, for many students and teachers, was a three-day weekend. I remember, when I was in school, always looking forward to three-day weekends. Monday holidays were always my favorite. Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, President’s Day, Casimir Pulaski Day, (you only would know that if you’re from the great state of Chicago… I uh, mean Illinois) Labor Day, and of course Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

But I want to take a few moments to remind all of us that yesterday wasn’t just about getting a day off. Yesterday was a day to celebrate and commemorate the life of a wonderful, godly, loving, caring, and courageous man.

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born as Michael King Jr. on January 15th, 1929. His father, Michael Sr. actually legally changed his own name, as well as his son’s, after a trip to Germany. During that trip, Michael Sr., a Baptist preacher, was so impressed by the life of the famous reformer that he made the legal switch in names in order to honor the hero of the Reformation.

King Jr.’s new name would perfectly fit his life’s work. He was in every way a true reformer of social, civil, and political norms.

The amazing man lived his life in such a way that inspired others to live in the same way. He truly walked the walk to back up his talk. He was a Christian who followed Jesus not only in word but in action.

King has so many incredible quotes. Yesterday, I was scrolling through my social media feeds and I saw quote upon quote from Dr. King. The extra cool thing was that I rarely saw a quote repeated. This is even more proof that this world changer had so much to say that we all should continue to listen.

It is one particular quote of his that I want to focus on today. It just happens to be one of my absolute favorites. The following is from a sermon that the good reverend gave back in 1957.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. “

Perhaps one reason why I love this quote so much is that it reminds me a lot of another line from a very quotable source.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

david-monje-219913

The verse in John is talking all about Jesus-the light who came into the world to bring light and life to those who were dead in darkness. The darkness has not, will not, and cannot overcome the light that Jesus brings.

King’s quote is so impactful because it reminds us that more atrocity cannot put an end to atrocities, more hate cannot put an end to hatefulness, and more sin cannot put an end to our sinfulness. An argument isn’t ended by raised voices, all that results in is a louder room.

Unfortunately, in today’s culture, many things that Dr. King fought for and stood against are still hot-topic issues. However, we must remember that the fight against injustices is an ongoing one. And please, hear me clearly, this is our fight. As followers of Jesus Christ, no matter what the color our skin, we must stand against injustice. We must be light-bearers who, as we reflect the one true light, send darkness packing. We must remember that the root of our issues and frustrations are not caused by politics, nor economic status, not even race…but sin.

Sin is a thing that every single human being (no matter what background, race, intelligence, religion, nationality, or anything else) has in common. Thankfully, the Savior of the world is an equal opportunity rescuer.

In Luke chapter 4 Jesus read a Scripture from the Old Testament.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Jesus then sat back and humbly said, (I’m heavily paraphrasing) “This is all about me. I am now doing all these things.”

Jesus was all about Saving the world, something only He could do through His death on the cross. Jesus was also all about justice, and therefore, we should be too. I’m reminded of a lyric from one of my favorite music groups, Beautiful Eulogy, and their song, “Slain.”

“I’m not afraid to talk about social injustices

Let’s also talk about the throne where perfect justice is

It sounds insensitive and some will hate the stench of it

But the church is not faithful if we fail to mention it

We worship a God who can speak to the world’s pain

Because salvation for us came through the Lamb who was slain”

 

Did you catch that second line? I hope so because I underlined it. Perfect justice can and will only come from God Himself. That truth is something that we believers need to talk about…and not stop talking about.

I think that Martin Luther King Jr. would agree, after all, he did say,

“The God whom we worship is not a weak and incompetent God. He is able to beat back gigantic waves of opposition and to bring low prodigious mountains of evil. The ringing testimony of the Christian faith is that God is able.”

The Consumed Consumer.

“The Bible calls us to be servants, not consumers”

Black Friday. Cyber Monday.

How crazy is this? Businesses spend countless hours preparing for these two days. Their end goal? To trick customers into buying as much of their product as possible. The funniest/saddest part? We all know exactly what they are doing…and yet we still run to the stores anyway.

Let me be clear, I am not trying to make anyone feel bad, nor am I condemning going Black Friday shopping. (My wife and I actually went with friends and had a great time and even got some great deals on gifts for friends and family.) However, the point that I am getting at is this. We live in a consumeristic culture and its grip on many of us is very strong.

Again, there is nothing wrong with being a consumer at the stores. Looking for the best deals is actually a great way to be a wise steward of your resources.

However, when we allow our consumer mentality to creep into other aspects of our lives it becomes very dangerous very fast.

The problem with being a perpetual consumer is that the focus is always on self. What is best for me? What can I get out of this? How can I put forth the smallest effort in order to get the biggest reward? What about me? While these questions might seem normal to the culture we find ourselves in, they actually all run counter to a biblical mindset.

One of the themes we see repeated over and over again in the Bible is one of selflessness, and let’s be real, consumerism is entirely selfish. Where do we see that selfless theme in the Bible? I’m glad you asked.

-Mark 9:35 “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and a servant of all.”

-John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

-Mark 10:44 “and whoever would be first must be a slave (servant) of all.”

-Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

This is just a small sample size of Jesus’ very own words that highlight the biblical attitude of selflessness. Jesus also stunningly displayed this attitude in John 13 when He washed His disciple’s feet. Just try to imagine for a moment that you were there witnessing the Creator God of the universe doing the humiliating job of the lowest of servants. Jesus was not a consumer. And let’s not forget the most selfless act of all, when Jesus gave His life on the cross to save us from our sins.

The Bible calls us to be servants, not consumers. Jesus’ model for us is of service, not consumerism.

We must continually fight against having a consumer mindset when it comes to our church, family, friends, community, and the list goes on. President John F. Kennedy once famously said, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” I love that sentiment. Ask not what your friends can do for you, ask what you can do for your friends. For your neighbors. For your family. For your church.

Unfortunately, consumerism has crept into churches all across the country. Individuals might look for a church based on what they can get, rather than what they can contribute to that local body of believers. That’s not to say that being a part of a local church doesn’t have benefits. The church that Jesus Christ established has wonderful benefits that you can find nowhere else on earth. However, along with benefits come responsibilities.

You and your church remain healthiest when both are actively involved and concerned with serving one another. We must remember that the church is not a building or a business. The church isn’t even really an institution in the traditional sense. The church is people. We cannot be consumers of people. We need to serve people.

This Christmas season let’s look for opportunities to think of others rather than just ourselves. Imagine what our communities, families, and churches would look like if we went out of our way in order to serve one another.

Let’s stop being consumers and instead have a higher mindset.

Galatians 5:13 “…through love serve one another.”