Dr. King's Dream of Freedom

Black History Month celebrates those who went the extra mile for justice and freedom — and beckons us.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s diligence to his dream was the key that permitted him to overcome many obstacles. People opposed him from every side, yet he never looked back. He pressed forward to preach the message of equality for all, and he was fearless in making his dream a reality for everyone. We are called on to do the same, in spite of the inequalities in our communities across this nation.

In the New International Version of the Christian Bible, Isaiah 41:13 says, “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” I think one’s immovable trust and faith in God, combined with one’s drive to live the dream of unity and a steadfast relationship with Jesus Christ, has the power to make the impossible a reality. As Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”

Martin Luther King II greets K. Kendall Mathews at Ford Freedom Award dinner in 2004.
Barbara Orto

We need many more Dr. Kings in our world today — people who will stand up and fight universally against the negative forces of bias and unfairness. The fight needs to be comprehensive and unrelenting, and it needs to incorporate social networking, physical relief, psychological wellness and spiritual development. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

What we need to overcome negative forces is a prescribed amount of God’s diligence, entrenched in our lives and patterned after the diligence of Jesus who gave up his earthly freedom so that all people could have access to salvation. As “Jesus Loves the Little Children” says, “Red, yellow, black and white, we are precious in his sight.” We can all be the dream that King so wanted for every color, culture and creed.

In celebrating Black History Month, be mindful that many people have gone the extra mile for the cause of freedom and liberty — some have given their life. King knew who he was and who created him, so the fight for freedom was not his or ours, but it belongs to the Lord. As 2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

God, through Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit, is our freedom maker and spiritual liberator. As you live in the freedom of Christ, others might soon see your brightness and want that same God-given freedom.

When my father punished me for wrongdoings as a little boy, he said that he only wanted to free me from my wrongdoing so that I would choose to do right the next time, and so that I might feel hurt inside for a little while but be set free later on by the truth. Dad was talking about freeing me from wrongdoing, but what he really wanted me to understand was that freedom comes from making a decision about what is right and wrong. For me, that included being put in time out. It might have hurt during that time, but I was free and felt better later on.

The choice to live the dream in spite of injustice is at hand for us all. Do not allow negative attitudes to weigh you down and lower your standards because as my dad used to say, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” Do not respond with tasteless words or retaliatory actions — discover beauty in everyone. If you have it in you — and I know you do — get along with everyone. Don’t insist on getting even." James 1:2-3 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”

The road to freedom is a hard one, but like King, we, too, will be faced with things that will zap the life right out of us — things like misunderstandings and unrighteous ways. But do not lose heart. Christ came into this world to relieve us from our transgressions and give us freedom from selfishness, prejudice, discrimination and pride. 2 Corinthians 7:1 says, “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”

Remember that it is about living each day not in fear, but in faith — that all your wrongs can be made right in Christ, if you only believe. Whom the Lord sets free is free indeed.

Major K. Kendall Mathews is executive director of the Indianapolis Harbor Light Center 


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