I first wrote a variation on this message a year ago in remembrance of Dr. King Day.
In today’s world these two words often seem at odds. How can one serve and still be a leader? Next week in reading the children in first through eighth grades will learn about just such a man. This man was someone who served the needs of others. He did this when times were good, he did this when times were tough.
Dr. King was a servant-leader. He was taught how to serve others by his parents. He was taught by his father, a pastor. He was taught by example. The examples were taught at home. The examples were based on what his parents taught him from the Bible.
He was taught by the examples of the greatest servant-leader, our LORD. Jesus came into the world to save us. He came into the world to show us the Good News of Salvation. He showed us how to live. John 3:17 says For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Matthew 20:27-28 tells us that Jesus came not be served but to serve and to give His life up for many.
We know how Dr. King fought for equality for all. We know how Dr. King fought for the rights of all through civil disobedience. We know about Dr. King’s marches. We know a lot about his public person. There is a lot written about this great man. Just one search this morning on Google for “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” turned up over 117 million hits. A year ago, the total was over 108 million hits. That says something about the man!
We consider Dr. King a hero!
Dr. King had heroes as well. Three of his heroes were: Martin Luther (1483-546) Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) and Gandhi (1869-1948). From these three men he learned many things. He learned more about his faith and how to handle events in his life a peaceful manner. Dr. King was no stranger to having to “turn the other cheek”. Dr. King was a man of principles. He held his views high and expected that of those around him. Dr. King inspired a whole generation of people to look at their neighbor differently. He inspired a whole generation in history of people to move out of what we now call a “comfort zone” and do something different. I know he influenced my husband, as a college student to travel to Birmingham, AL during a turbulent time and register voters.
Although Dr. King held these three men in high regard, he didn’t get his beliefs from them or those around him. Ultimately what he believed came from what he was taught by his parents as a child and what they taught him from the Bible.
When Dr. King was questioned about who he was, or what he considered most important in his life his first answers didn’t have to do with what he had accomplished or the changes he made. His first response was that he was a Baptist minister. He was first and foremost a child of the LORD. What he saw in people was that all were equal in the sight of the LORD. We are all equal in our sin and we are all equal in our forgiveness through Christ. Dr. King knew this, believed this, and practiced this.
When Dr. King faced the hard times in his life it was to the Word that he went, it was to other ministers of different denominations that he went – to whom he reached out.
As we celebrate or remember Dr. King this Monday, January 20, 2020, in whatever way(s) take the time to thank the LORD for placing Dr. King in a time in history when he could speak out. Christ said,” There is no greater love, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13). Dr. King did this. He laid down his life for what he believed.
Take a moment and read his “I Have A Dream” speech. Take a moment and look closely to see how much Dr. King referred to words from the Bible. Dr. King’s words are as important and needed today as they were in 1963.
Jesus’ words and forgiveness are just as needed today as they were over 2000 years.
Vicki Helmling is a teacher at Grace English Lutheran School