the content of our character

Earlier this week was MLK Day. I want to ensure we continue to be intentional in remembering the message and motives of Dr. King for far more than one day. I want to be intentional in pausing to remember now.

I also wish to pause long enough not to tell someone else what they need to remember. I want to pause and revisit what “I” need… where “I” need to be reminded… where “I” need to grow.

Martin Luther King Jr. stood for faith, equality, and nonviolence. To omit any of the three, would be to omit what he stood for.

He stood for faith… he was a Christian man, believing that Jesus Christ lived and died for each of us. Our greatest calling is two-fold: one, to love God with all our heart, mind and strength, and two, to love our neighbor as ourself. Dr. King consistently advocated for both — not just one or the other. He advocated for unconditional love in each of the above.

He stood for equality… knowing God loves each of us unconditionally like crazy, Dr. King dreamed of a day where no one would “be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” He dreamed of a day where no one would be judged by their race or their wealth. He stood for human dignity. He encouraged us to be mindful as to how policy affects the poor. That means no one, ever, is treated lesser. 

He stood for nonviolence… knowing God loves each of us unconditionally like crazy and wanting us to judge others by the content of their character, our culture needs change. To change that culture, he advocated for doing so nonviolently. In fact, in his notorious letter written in a Birmingham cell, before he advocated for action, he first advocated for self-purification. He knew he had to be right with God first.

And so as we pause to remember on one day more than the marked holiday, I must ask myself…

Where have “I” not really looked to God, recognizing his unconditional, crazy love?

Where have “I” not loved my neighbor as myself? Where have “I” allowed something else to get in the way?

When have “I” judged a person by the color of their skin — black, brown, white or other?

When have “I” looked down upon someone else and treated them lesser?

When have “I” refused to be charitable?

When have “I” ignored the poor?

When have “I” been insensitive or refused to look at an issue from the perspective of another, especially from a minority perspective?

Where, too, have “I” pursued change but done so rudely, vulgarly, or with no respect for others?

Where have “I” advocated for change but failed to first engage in self-purification, not ensuring I was right with the great big God of the universe first?

And two more questions, as I crave the honoring of all humankind on this planet…

Where have “I” pointed the finger at someone else — thinking they need to pause, they need to be reminded, and only they need to grow?

When have “I” forgotten that wisdom heeds each of us to examine self and grow?

I so appreciate the message and motives of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

As a man who encouraged each of us to live our lives a little bit more like Jesus, I find myself pausing more, knowing there is much growth necessary within me.