Living The Dream

January 2nd, 2013

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:18-19)

This article endeavors to engage its readers by eliciting vivid recall of the dream and vision of the late Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His was a dream embedded in his faith in God and in Jesus’ vision of a kingdom of peace with justice for all nations of the earth.

Despite his critics’ claim that “peace and civil rights don’t mix,” Dr. King spoke emphatically on the issues of war, racism, and economic injustice while advocating a nonviolent response. Living the Dream. I hear a renewed and clarion call today for you and me to reclaim Dr. King’s vision and embrace it as our own. By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit we are encouraged to lift up this vision in prayer and in renewed commitment to unity and understanding. This national holiday is a calling forth to a deeper level of thanksgiving to a gracious and loving God who is the source of the gifts of love, forgiveness, mercy, and redemption.

It is my hope that Dr King’s legacy will remind us of those who suffer because of social neglect and help us to be more sympathetic to those who are lonely, alienated, uninvited, regarded as unsuitable, or viewed as an embarrassment to others. If we interpret and internalize the Scripture text above, we will be encouraged to fervently pray for ways to make amends and to draw such persons, in the spirit of our Savior, into a community of faith that is truly inclusive.

Perhaps, the greatest challenge that Living the Dream offers its readers is that: God’s power can reconcile a fallen brother or sister. And this reconciliation reminds us that, but for God’s grace, we would have been in that person’s predicament.

It is wrong to measure our faithfulness by the shortcomings we see in others. Our church, our families, our faith community ought to reflect the life, ministry, and teachings of Christ as we share one another’s burdens. However, each of us must shoulder our own responsibilities so that we do not become a drain on the common good. This is the time for love, not hate; for understanding, not anger; for peace, not war.

People of all races, religions, classes, and stations in life are called to put aside their differences; to break down barriers that divide our communities and join hands in a spirit of unity. God cannot be deceived when we are slack in offering our best in service to him and to one another.

For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. (Galatians 5:13 NRSV)

“Freedom has always been an expensive thing. History is fit testimony to the fact that freedom is rarely gained without sacrifice and self-denial. Our hope for creative living in this world house that we have inherited lies in our ability to reestablish the moral ends of our lives in personal character and social justice.” (The words of Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Pause and Reflect

The negotiations were over. The deal was closed.

The chairman of the board looked with satisfaction at the dilapidated building across the street. Soon the demolition would begin. Technology and machinery would wipe out the eyesore. It would create a shining structure of steel and glass. The luxury apartments would resonate with life.

He knew that there were a few occupants in the dilapidated building across the street. Where would they go? Would city authorities care for them? Would they find another home in this land of the free and the brave?

What alternatives were there for him, anyway?

He did not have the luxury of saying no. It would have cost him his position on the board.

He did not feel that the decision was wrong. Anyway, the building was an eyesore.

He refused to entertain the idea that claiming our dreams could sometimes deny others the freedom to live.

He refused to admit that being free sometimes comes with a costly price tag.

He found it hard to acknowledge that love and freedom were closely linked in the choices we make in life.

Prayer

Lord, help us pause; to take a moment now and then to reflect on the purpose of our being here; to tune in to the needs of those less fortunate than ourselves; to sort through our own feelings and beliefs; to focus our activity into meaningful action that hears the cry of others; to gain strength from the promise that you watch over all your creation. Lord, lead us into your freedom and your love. Amen.

About the Author

Fred Allen

The Rev. Dr. Fred A. Allen is the National Director of Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century (SBC 21) and read more…
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