Today we remember the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
In the early church, people memorialized the martyrs by celebrating the day on which they died, because it was on that day that they were born into the fullness of new life in Christ and freed from the sinful tendencies of the flesh. In that spirit, then, today would be the appropriate feast day and memorial for Martin Luther King Jr., commemorating the death he died fighting for the freedom of his people, a fight that was both informed and characterized by his faith.
Of all the things that impress me about MLK, the ones that I think amazes me most are the tenacity with which he held to his faith in the face of the fear, antagonism, oppression, injustice, violence and hatred aimed at him by people who claimed to share that same faith, and his insistence at operating peacefully and striving for love when he was receiving all of that in return. How close he must have been to Christ, to keep living for Him in the midst of that storm of darkness! How strong his character must have been, forged in trials and infused by the Spirit Himself, to not waver on his principles or beliefs through all of his years in the civil rights movement!
I can tell you honestly that I don’t think my faith and character would hold up to the trials he faced. I can guarantee that I wouldn’t have faced those situations and people with the same combination of boldness and grace – I would have been running and hiding and hoping no one noticed me.
But his faith sustained him, his love directed him, and his courage kept his feet on the hard and beautiful path he had set out on. May we follow his example, and never by our silence, fear, or ignorance be complicit in the injustices he battled against.