He walked

th-3Freed a lot of people
But it seems the good they die young
I just look around and he’s gone
– lyrics by Dick Holler, as sung by Dion

Today we commemorate the life of a good man. Not a perfect man — a good man. At a time when violent change was convulsing the nation, he stood for non-violence. At a time when hatred fed its caustic poison into the veins of a nation, he abstained. He preferred the milk of human kindness to the drunkenness of hate.

All he did was walk.

In the face of guns, smoke, fire and fire hose, he walked. In the face of threats, taunts and vitriolic anger, he walked. In the face of beatings and imprisonment, he walked. In the face of long-standing bitterness and revenge-seeking, he walked.

Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord (Romans 12:19). He believed that, so he walked.

He was a calm presence in turbulent times, and as such he was a gift from God to our society. Things could have easily gotten worse. For a while they did, until he turned up and just walked. Like Jesus sleeping in the boat in the middle of a turbulent storm, he had a different agenda. He calmed the sea. He walked.

He didn’t walk away. He walked into. Right into the middle of everything, he walked. He locked arms with his fellow human beings, and walked.

We can walk today because of the One who walks with us. I believe he walked under the same power. We can lock arms and walk right into whatever we are facing.

“We’ve been in the mountain of racial injustice long enough,” Martin Luther King said in a speech to a Los Angeles synagogue in 1965. “And now it is time for us to move on to that great and noble realm of justice and brotherhood.”

He walked, and he kept on walking right up over that mountain, until he was gone.

th-4

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19 Responses to He walked

  1. Lisa in Sunland says:

    Personally, I think he should have walked. 🙂

    Kidding. I especially love the description that he “preferred the milk of human kindness to the drunkenness of hate.” We do surely need more of that in the world. Thanks, John.

  2. Being a young child during this time, I grew up knowing I had to make a choice. I could either agree with MLK or disagree (somewhat) with my parents (who are Christians and good people, but who also managed to somehow separate racial view with spiritual ones). It was a strange way to grow up. Being horrified at what I found out about how people were being treated, right around me… And as an adult seeing that Christians did not step up to do anything (except often support the wrong side). Christ unifies us. We must allow ourselves to be unified!

  3. Mark Seguin says:

    Amen to he walked… and RIP brother Martin along side the king of king… 🙂

  4. TomB says:

    While I appreciate your poetic gift, and can understand how for a 60’s folkie and a Californian it would be heresy not to swoon over MLK, saying he only “walked” is to ignore our subsequent history. Fifty years on, we can see that he sowed the seeds for the racial divide and class warfare and politics of victimhood that are so effectively used today to obtain political power. While “standing up for my rights” is a great American tradition, it is not a Christian one. Jesus was faced with a condition similar to MLK. The Jewish people were a distinct and persecuted minority, and yet there is no record of Jesus leading a march to Rome to demand equal rights. Later, there is no record of Peter and Paul leading a march to the Jewish High Priest to demand equal representation for Christians in the Jewish government. Jesus never said or taught “I’m a victim, and you owe me …”. The currency of American politics is power, and the government can be manipulated to coerce behavior; the currency of the Kingdom of God is submission, and it acts only by choice, to love.
    While it is nice that we maintain the fiction that the marches were nonviolent, and I certainly prefer that to later demonstrations in Detroit, Watts, and Ferguson, the premise of the MLK march was to demand rights and coerce a response. This stands in stark contrast to the gospel, and the Gospel of Welcome, which is based on a personal choice that I will treat everyone with love, grace, and generosity, and act in their best interest, because that is the way God meets me. I neither require nor demand a response. And, as you do with the CATCH Community, you invite others to join us in meeting all of God’s people this way.
    Although emphasizing divisions between people, and fighting for rights, and promoting envy of what another group has, are powerful political levers, they are in direct conflict the gospel. MLK was certainly a significant, political force, but he has led us away from the motivations and actions to which we are called as Christians.

    • Sandie says:

      Dr. King did not stand for ‘rights’ – rather he stood (and walked) for justice – as did Jesus. Dr. King did not sow the seeds of ‘racial divide’, ‘class warfare’ or the ‘politics of victimhood’ – rather they are the bastard child of those seeking power by preying on those that truly are victims of those things.

    • As John mentioned, Martin Luther King, Jr. was not a perfect man.
      Dr. King certainly was a controversial figure at the time and, obviously, still stirs up powerful emotions inside those who – in particular – lived through that era, whether they be supporters, detractors, or – heaven forbid – unscrupulous revisionists.
      I am reminded of other figures from history – equally controversial in their time, all idolized or vilified – who walked, marched, or made pilgrimages for equality,justice, and dignity:
      Muhammad, Ghandi, Mandela, Chavez… and undoubtedly many others whose names I’m unable to recall right now.
      The main difference, however, between these individuals (including Dr. King) and Jesus is this:
      While they all pursued some sort of noble cause or ‘limited’ betterment for a group of people (or populace) in hopes that they might eventually effect positive change, Jesus knew exactly what He was born to do and where His mission would lead Him:
      To a cruel unparalleled death on behalf of the entire human population.
      Past. Present. Future. Hebrew. Gentile. Arab. Roman. Greek. Muslim, Buddhist. Hindu. Athiest. Wiccan. Satanist. White. Black, Brown. Yellow. Red. Albino. Mulatto. Male. Female. Wealthy. Poor. Middle Class. Homosexual. Pedophile. Murderer. Gossiper. Liar. Gorgeous. Handsome. Ugly. Hideous. Athlete. Able-bodied. Disabled. Patriot. Seahawk. ALL of Humanity…
      Which for us, results in the greatest freedom and brightest future – inconceivable in human concepts – that created beings can know.
      We have from Jesus what none of the others could ever offer:
      His blood-sealed guarantee of eternal Life with Him.
      No hopeful yearnings of better days to come but the blessed assurance that better days are here, NOW.
      But. now, it’s up to us. What are we going to do with that knowledge and gift?
      Bicker about those fallible people who tried to make a positive difference in the past?
      Or look for the positive attributes in those fallible souls and in each other in order to build one another up despite our differences or perceptions?
      “Encourage one another”

    • TomB says:

      If what I said offended you in any way, I sincerely apologize. It was not my intent, nor is it my intent to stimulate any more conversation about MLK, the man. Rather, I was trying to make an observation about our culture, and how we as Christians relate to it. That’s what I thought CATCH was about, and that’s why I support CATCH.
      My global observation (please correct me) is that traditional Christianity in developed countries is dying. When I lived in Great Britain and Germany 30 years ago, the churches were already empty. Every poll/study of America I’ve seen suggests that participation in traditional Christianity is declining here, with the sharpest losses in the youngest generations. It will only take time to complete the death. So, it makes me wonder if there is something inherent in American culture that is hostile to, or incompatible with Christianity.
      On this occasion, it struck me that our preoccupation with our “rights”, which is the hallmark of free societies, could be such an item. Our hyper-sensitivity to obtaining and defending our rights, and expecting/demanding others to grant and respect these, stands in contrast to the disinterest Jesus showed in his “rights”, and those of his community.

      • jwfisch says:

        I agree, Tom, that when the rights I am struggling for are my own, the issue can get clouded with selfishness. Justice asks me to struggle for the rights of others, even those I don’t like or agree with. That’s when America is at its greatest when we are seeking the rights of all. I truly believe this is what MLK marched for, not just the rights of a minority, but for equal rights for all, which would be justice. I fail to understand how he could have been bad for America. I hate to think what would have happened had we not had a voice of love, peace and non-violence to identify with at the time, don’t you?

      • TomB says:

        John, thanks for weighing in. I hope this doesn’t mean I’m in trouble! It seems that if CATCH is to be a Christian approach to culture, and not just a friendly, popular one, we should be concerned about what Jesus had to say, or not say, about a topic the culture is addressing. In this case, America appears to be obsessed with the topics of equal rights and social justice. Who could be against that? But, if it’s so obvious to us, shouldn’t Jesus agree? I tried a simple experiment of reading the Gospel of Matthew. To my surprise, I found the words “rights” and “justice” never mentioned. By my interpretation, I found a related issue raised less than 10 times. In every case, Jesus’ approach or direction was submissive, not assertive. While this venue is not appropriate for documenting all the cases, there was no obvious evidence that Jesus “struggled for the rights of others”. At the risk of generalizing, Jesus came at a time when Israel had been waiting hundreds of years for a Messiah, to release them from oppression. His response, to those who arrested him, was “Am I leading a rebellion?” So, if pursuing rights is “America at its best”, perhaps we’re addressing the wrong issue. Could it be that in America we’re obsessed with something that is personally satisfying and politically profitable, but a misdirection and a distraction from Jesus’ point of view?

      • Lisa in Sunland says:

        One thought though… if people were going to demonstrate and enter a fight for civil rights anyway, Dr. King worked on ways to do it peacefully and without violence. More lovingly, if you will. So this brought the struggle at least a bit more close to the way Jesus would do it if he were to take up this cause. We sometimes do things Jesus didn’t do (raise kids, for example), so we need to seek how He would do it if he were doing it. Just a thought! Thanks.

  5. Mark Seguin says:

    Like to add a very big Amen to Sandie’s common sense post and loved this part’s: “Dr. King did not sow the seeds of ‘racial divide’, ‘class warfare’ or the ‘politics of victimhood’ – rather they are the bastard child of those seeking power…”

  6. Sandie says:

    “Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone. THE LIGHT SHINES THROUGH THE DARKNESS, AND THE DARKNESS CAN NEVER EXTINGUISH IT.” (John1:4,5 – NLT)
    I agree that things look grim when you focus on dwindling participation in churches – especially in the mainline denominations. But, is that necessarily a bad thing…especially in light of the fact that so many of their leadership have abandoned the reason for their existence – what John Fischer calls The Gospel Of Welcome?
    God has always preserved a remnant…those who have received The Light (NOT enlightenment!). And wherever we Lightbearers go “THE LIGHT SHINES THROUGH THE DARKNESS, AND THE DARKNESS CAN NEVER EXTINGUISH IT!”
    So, I choose to look for His Light in every person, in every situation, wherever and whenever…and you know what? It IS there to be found..it is MY responsibility to look…and when I find it, to nurture and aid its growth and influence!!
    I can’t change the world, but by the power of The Holy Spirit, I can effect good change in my small corner of it.
    I’ll end by paraphrasing a quote from MLK Jr. ” If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way…” which paraphrases one of my life verses: “Whatsoever thy hands find to do, do it with all your might…” (Ecc.9:10 – KJV).

  7. mitchteemley says:

    John, wanted to let you know that I’ve nominated you for a Very Inspiring Blogger award! http://mitchteemley.com/2015/01/23/very-inspiring-blogger-award/

  8. “…I, too, am happy that I didn’t sneeze. Because if I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been around here in 1960…” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Izola Ware Curry, who stabbed Dr. King in 1958 died earlier this month at 98:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/22/us/izola-ware-curry-who-stabbed-king-in-1958-dies-at-98.html?_r=0

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