The Dream Is For You Too!
Saleama A. Ruvalcaba
Today we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We celebrate the remarkable role Martin Luther King Jr. played in ending legal segregation of African-American citizens in the United States. An astounding 49 years after his assassination in Memphis, TN, King Jr. is still remembered as one of the most inspirational African-American leaders.
Proverbs 4:1 “Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding.”
There’s an aspect to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I hope to convey and inspire us in our efforts to evoke change in others. Sometimes we make the mistake of viewing Martin Luther King Jr. as only a leader for African-Americans. Yes, he was a leader for African-Americans. He contributed to the diversification in American history. However, today I want to look at what Martin Luther King Jr. accomplished from a different point-of-view.
For example; I’m in seminary. Each week I turn in a reflection paper from my assigned reading. I usually receive 100%, every week. Well, one week, points were deducted. My professor said I had editing issues. What? I couldn’t believe it. But then I recall I did not spend the same amount of time re-reading what I wrote to make sure the paper was flawless. As a result, the paper did not reach its full potential. Even though I understood the lesson, I did not communicate an effective message of the lesson – therefore, the paper was weakened.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a wonderful communicator. A few years ago I spent a month reading some of his writings. His intellect and eloquence was captivating. He was skillful. He learned from others. In 1959, Martin Luther King Jr. took a trip to India and was inspired by Gandhi’s success of nonviolent activism, which increased his commitment to the civil rights movement. I argue, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was able to penetrate the hearts of many, because he took his time to deepen his understanding of nonviolent activism, and he was masterful at communicating the message for his mission.
Proverbs 16:32 “Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper, than one who takes a city.”
Because we can, at the click of a button, post or publish anything – we are saturated with dissemination. And unfortunately a lot of it is not of quality. Another unfortunate aspect in our culture today is – it doesn’t have to have quality. I did a beginners study on marketing. When we see something flashed in front of our eyes enough times, we eventually want it. We’re pounded with “don’t give up” messages. These messages are self-motivating for our glory! We have no reason to bother with taking our time to communicate effectively. We can keep pounding the same bad message over and over – and eventually we will get some takers. We have no patience – we want success and we want it now – at any cost.
I stumbled upon an article dealing with Christian faith. However, I could only manage to read two paragraphs. The article was riddled with mistakes. Not minor mistakes all writers make from time-to-time, but every other sentence. I could not decipher the message the author was attempting to impart. So I stopped reading it. I had no interest to learn anything about the author. And I will probably never read anything else from that author if I stumble upon their writings again. I’m not being mean – my point is; the message was poorly communicated, so I was not persuaded to invest further into the author’s mission. Martin Luther King Jr. had a grand mission. Poor communication was not an option to end segregation. Lack of patience was not an option. And a self-driven motive would have never lasted the momentous personal attacks on his life.
Proverbs 21:2 “All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs his heart.”
Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth name is Michael King Jr. His father, Michael King Sr., a pastor, adopted the name Martin Luther in honor of Martin Luther, the German Protestant leader, and his son followed suit. Does it amaze you that Martin Luther King Jr. chose the name of a religious reformer who would change the course of church history? Martin Luther, the reformer, eloquently stood on God’s Word in his defense for church reformation. Three short paragraphs in the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, Martin Luther King Jr. references the prophets from eight century B.C, and the Apostle Paul. He also references St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas and the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in his defense for social change. We are each called into different fields; activist, pastors, evangelists, missionaries, writers and so forth – but our aim to present the gospel as the focal point in our mission, is the same. Jesus Christ was the ultimate communicator – therefore, if we base our mission on the gospel, we owe it to Christ to take our time to pray, and seek the Holy Spirit before we embark on the calling He has entrusted to us. Martin Luther King Jr. was a great communicator and He stood on God’s Word as his backbone.
Anyone can post a scathing rant of injustice online. Anyone can post a mellow message of hope – yet it be filled with confusion – due to poor delivery. Anyone can start a violent protest. Anyone can instigate a racial and political divide. But it takes patience, integrity, character, prayer – and guidance from the Holy Spirit to stimulate our message. God will give us the tools necessary to deliver the gospel effectively to the masses. Don’t reduce the strength of God’s purpose to your calling by being in a rush to “get out there” that you fail to take time to master your skill. Get in Him – and through Him – your dream and your mission will transcend. Martin Luther King Jr.’s sacrifice is for all of us. He stood on God’s Word and he patiently fought for social change through powerfully communicating a compelling defense in the face of injustice. America became a better place when segregation ended. Spend time reading “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” today. And watch the I Have A Dream speech. Rise above the juvenile undertaking – and begin a new journey communicating your cause – your mission – through a new power – the Holy Spirit.