This coming Monday we remember the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His life and legacy. And it is quite easy to cherry pick his works for quotes that are comfortable and cozy. Pleasant and snug. Ones that do not make us think too hard about the world we live in or look at ourselves with too much veracity.
Yet, if we do that, we are really doing quite a poor job honoring the man who died only 54 years ago. Who went to jail for his beliefs because they were, in fact, illegal at the time. Who was one of the top priorities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s surveillance for the last few years of his life. His words were dangerous to the status quo at the time.
Many still are.
Why? Well, the work he took part in is not finished yet.
I do not mean only that racism still exists. It most certainly does, of course. It is so intrinsically a part of who we are as a culture that divesting it from ourselves and our systems continues to be an arduous, wearisome, and exigent process. But what many forget is that Dr. King also worked to end poverty, was adamantly pro-peace, and worked to see equal rights across every line. And those works certainly still have a long way to go.
One of the simplest of his harder quotes is this: Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
If that is not straight up Gospel, I’m not sure what is and Dr. King was certainly one of Christ’s preachers. Christ himself always stuck up for the people who those in power chose to denigrate, subjugate, or keep beneath their heel.
Things have not changed so much in two thousand years or fifty-five years. Those in power continue to find ways to remove rights and equity from those who are different. It is injustice, a threat to God’s justice. As followers of Christ, it is our job to root it out. To call it out. To remove it.
It should not be up to the people who are bearing the injustice to have to fight for rights that should be theirs simply because they are human. Nor is it theirs to teach all those who do not understand what it is like to endure such abominations we humans have dreamt up to hurt each other with – be they people of color, or women, or LGBTQ+, or any other child of God who is different from what someone has deemed “normal.”
It is our job, as followers of Christ to listen well, to walk with each other, and to join in Christ’s own labor of seeking true fullness of life, God’s justice, for all of God’s children. Work that Dr. King himself joined in.