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1/9/10

Martin Luther King and the Rest of Us

An old friend posted on Facebook a quote from Martin Luther King, from 1956.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

Real controversy, the kind which matters more than my petty interests, I have never faced. Likewise, tragedy. I have had stressful times, been shouted down, and have buried my mom, but the deepest controversy I have never seen. There has never been a day in which my faith was muzzled.

King faced this. His faith was not muzzled, per se, but he was killed for his beliefs. His beliefs, on the surface, look like the typical Jesse Jackson-style social religion. In fact, Jackson was involved in King's work. Jackson never has understood what King was about, however, looking at it all as merely a form of racial conflict resolution. That end was and is noble, and by degrees, we are getting there. King served a deeper goal. His name misnomers his reality. He knew the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords.

In the Wikipedia article on King, his faith in Christ is ignored, except for mentions what organizations he was involved with. In his letter from the Birmingham jail, he is not St. Paul writing prophetically from the Ephesus jail (though he makes the allusion, and a few parallels do exist), but it is clear who King serves and why he was doing what he did. An injustice often overlooked suffered by King is that his motivation is ignored.

This is not agreed by all. One website writer disagrees completely. However, in reading his site, reading some pseudo scholarship he used in defending his King James Bible only defense, the whole lot is suspect. It brings up the question of how do we know any celebrity Christian's faith? With the likes of Benny Hinn and Robert Tilton tugging on the checkbooks of their flock, and the blatant racism found in Barack Obama's pre-White House pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright, it is easy to be cynical. Toss in the Ted Haggard (an evangelical leader) and the Catholic priest abuse scandals, and it is a wonder anyone believes anything.

As Christians go, I don't hold King up, or down. That he died from the consequence of what he believed does not make him greater. He was murdered, or assassinated (I don't what the distinction is), and this, no doubt, was a response by someone afraid of what he was accomplishing. He is a hero, but what matters to me is not how he died, but how he lived.

The ultimate issue is not what do they believe, but what do I (and you) believe. Scandals are nothing knew. Complex motives are part of everyone's life, and complex lives are reality. The hypocrite and liar cannot change truth. Was King really as I see, or as the website writer linked above sees him?
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