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Learning from Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today our nation honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Dr. King was unquestionably one of the pivotal figures of the 20th century.  His biography on the Nobel Peace Prize websitesummarizes his remarkable career and influence.  As president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, he traveled over six million miles, spoke over 2,500 times, wrote five books, and directed the March on Washington at which he delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech (audio/video/text).

He was arrested some 20 times, assaulted at least four times, awarded five honorary degrees, and named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963.  The next year, he became the youngest man to receive the Nobel Peace Prize; he gave the prize money to the furtherance of the civil rights movement.  On the evening of April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his hotel room in Memphis, he was assassinated.

Last Friday, I mentioned my favorite quote from Dr. King: “I submit to you that if a man hasn’t discovered something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”  This morning let’s consider some other statements made by the civil rights leader and their application to our lives today.

To a world changing more rapidly than ever before, Dr. King would say, “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”  Over the years I’ve tried to remember that “today” is the only day there is.  Where is “yesterday”?  What color is “tomorrow”?  God is the Great I Am, not the I Was or I Will Be.  If I’ll take the step before me today and trust him for my next step tomorrow, I’ll stay in his “good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).  Are you in that will this morning?

In a postmodern culture that believes truth is personal and subjective, Dr. King would remind Christians that “the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.”  He added, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.”  Have you asked God to use your influence in transforming society?

In a day when technological progress is transforming our lives, Dr. King would warn us that “our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power.  We have guided missiles and misguided men.”  Are you praying for the spiritual awakening we desperately need?

The day before he was assassinated, Dr. King told supporters, “I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land.  I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land.  So I’m happy tonight.  I’m not worried about anything.  I’m not fearing any man.”  What fears do you face this morning?

Dr. King has been with the Lord nearly 43 years, but “he being dead yet speaketh” (Hebrews 11:4, KJV).  How has he spoken to you today?

Dr. Denison’s cultural commentary originally appeared at http://www.denisonforum.org. It has been reposted here with permission of the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture.

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