Have we misunderstood the dream?

Posted: Jan 21, 2008 in Anthropology, Meaningless, Opinions, Rants, Spiritual Transformation, Tangents, Thoughts

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

– Martin Luther King, JR.

You know when I hear the “I have a dream” and the “Let freedom ring section of MLK, JR. famous speech I am moved deeply by the drive that calls humanity to humility before their fellow humanity. The idea that any man white, black, hispanic or any other nationality could think of themselves in such privileged ways goes against the very nature of Christianity let alone any person who claims God as God. What I mean is that to claim oneself as better, more worthy or superior to any other man is a claim that only the Creator can make. For a spec of dust cannot consider itself anything other than dust, whether it lay upon the finest of tables or the dirties of trash cans, dust is dust. For it is not the dust that defines its lying place or the color of the dust that makes it dust rather it is the place where it lay that defines it as dust. It is what lies beneath us, the dust, that defines our being. For humanity that place is the cosmos of creation. The place set in motion, not by dust, but the Creator, our God Almighty, who is over all things. Moreover, it is by Him that the very definition of living is expressed in His actions and example as set forth by Christ. Christ’s way of life, death and resurrection encompasses humanities intended way of life better than any dream, even that of such a powerful dream as that envisioned on this day by Martin Luther King, JR. In Paul’s words to the Philippians in chapter 2 he states his dream with an example from the Supreme Being, Christ:

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

You see, King’s call was a continuation of a call to freedom in America, in this world, while the true example of freedom is set in the backdrop of slavery, to a God who made himself a slave to the Creation. The power in his example comes in his overwhelming victory over death and his extension of that freedom, a freedom that we humans, dying breeds that we are, have no control over unless we adopt a life of slavery to one another in glory to God. You see, as much as I, Les McDaniel, like the notion of King’s speech, letting “freedom ring” is not a notion that comes with a release from bondage but only comes when I, the white male American that I am, choose to live a life of servitude to all of humanity to the glory of God the Father. The call of the cross cannot be realized if our human pursuits are based on a pursuit of freedom cloaked in the claim of power over others. It cannot come if it is a pursuit of the proverbial “my way or the highway.” I believe the MLK understood this oh so well.

OK, but here is my point. The diversity of God has been expressed in creation. It has long been a dream of many in the body to see this diversity come together in his body the church. Though merely a small stroke of a pen in the pursuits for such brother and sisterhood, we cannot do this on the basis of preference. It will take slavery to our family no matter which color we might wear on our flesh. Perhaps for a time I the white man must pursue slavery to my black brothers and sisters more radically than they but isn’t this what we ought to be doing in order that healing may gained. But, in the final days, black or white MUST, seek to relinquish our un-rightful and self proclaimed status as God, and find ourselves in the pursuit to outdo one another in a righteousness.

Practically speaking as church we must seek to find ways to give up our race based styles, preferences, doctrines, beliefs and idols for the more profound life of slavery. A slavery that seeks to raise the others strengths and weakness above my own. A slavery that seeks the success and providence of God’s will in the lives of everyone around before seeking that success and providence for self. This will be a long and tedious process but we must learn to bear with one another on this journey. We must tear down the walls of segregation that keep us apart. We must forgive the daily sins we will commit against one another and God, until that day when God can perfect his love in us. Oh that God’s loving and gracious will may abound over our human will and desire. Then and only then will we be able to resound King’s final statement, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Holy Father in heaven, may we, who call ourselves your people, be of the same mind. Because we are humans, let us not regard equality with one another as something to be exploited, but instead let us like Christ empty ourselves of our rights, even to our humanity, and take on the form of a slave, because we who are worthy of nothing more than destruction, were given the opportunity of life eternal through Jesus. As such and because of this human form we find ourselves in, let us, instead, humble ourselves and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross, so that your redemptive work may be unveiled and true freedom may be gained to your glory. Amen


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