Eugene Cho

celebrating martin luther king, jr…and acknowledging the Giver of such dreams…

mlk

Martin Luther King Jr. was an extraordinary person.  Not perfect but nevertheless, extraordinary.  While we remember his legacy again on this day…let’s not make the mistake of forgetting the God behind this extraordinary man.

It’s way too easy to talk about MLK because so many people and groups of people want to own him as their own.  But they often don’t want to take or acknowledge all of him.  At the core of his life, Martin Luther King Jr. was a follower of Jesus Christ. His faith in Christ informed all that he sought to do as a civil rights leader.

And that is precisely why his dream did not die upon his assassination. Because it wasn’t his dream.  This dream is bigger than one man, one race, one gender, and one generation.

God is behind it all…
And God is still stirring.
And God is still speaking into our dreams.

Dr. King was not a perfect man. Far from it but he was a great man as he pursued to live out his definition of greatness: a servant of others. While many are familiar with his more well known speeches such as “I Have a Dream,” another one that I’m particularly drawn to is his last “speech” – delivered the day before his assassination.

“I just want to do God’s will…as a people, we will get to the promised land…I’m not fearing any man as mine eyes have seen the coming of the Lord.”

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day today, may we acknowledge and celebrate this amazing dreamer but also acknowledge the Giver of such dreams.

..and dare to dream as well.

And every now and then, I love “preaching” one of his sermons. Last year (2011), I read one of my favorite Martin Luther King Jr. sermons at Quest Church entitled, “The Drum Major Instinct.” This sermon was preached at Ebener Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia on February 4, 1968. He was assassinated on April 4.

Below is the video of the sermon and you can also read the entire manuscipt here.

Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice.
Say that I was a drum major for peace.
I was a drum major for righteousness.
And all of the other shallow things will not matter.
I won’t have any money to leave behind.
I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind.
But I just want to leave a committed life behind…

In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I’m sharing one of my favorite MLK Jr. quotes:

“When our days become dreary with low hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Question: What’s your favorite MLK quote?

Filed under: justice, , ,

37 Responses

  1. DK says:

    This is one of my favorites:

    Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies – or else? The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

  2. J. P. says:

    That quote is great, for sure. Here’s Obama’s riff on it: “… put [your] hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.” (November 4, 2008)

  3. Sue says:

    How about this one? For me, this explains so much: “Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated.”

  4. Teresa says:

    “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.”
    Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963.

    “Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love.”
    Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967.

  5. Rick in Texas says:

    This quote is from the letter from Birmingham Jail:

    “So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists will we be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?”

  6. donte says:

    “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s ‘Theory of Relativity’ to serve. You don’t have to know the Second Theory of Thermal Dynamics in Physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love, and you can be that servant.” MLK

  7. pastoralan says:

    From THE RISING TIDE OF RACIAL CONSCIOUSNESS

    “No American can afford to be apathetic about the problem of racial justice. It is a problem that meets every man at his front door.”

    I’m excited about tomorrows inauguration. It’s the fulfillment of the dream.

  8. Tony says:

    This has always been one of my favorites:

    “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

    And to respond to pastoralan:

    I too am thrilled about tomorrow’s inauguration. But we must be careful with such sentiments as Obama’s election being the fulfillment of MLK’s dream. That’s like saying that Neil Armstrong’s steps on the moon were the fulfillment of man’s desire to understand space. While Obama’s election is a significant and historic step in the right direction, we certainly have a long ways to go before we can claim the dream of racial equality and reconciliation as being fulfilled. We need only look around our own neighborhoods and schools to see that.

  9. attgig says:

    on a completely unrelated subject. congrats on making #36…

    http://churchrelevance.com/resources/top-church-blogs/

    who makes these rankings anyways… this should be #1 =)

  10. pjchris says:

    This one if my favorite. I came across it while on a difficult journey and it was an important if painful reminder for me:

    A religion true to its nature must also be concerned about man’s social conditions. Any religion that professes to be concerned with the souls of men and is not concerned with the slums that damn them, with the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them is a dry as dust.

  11. Rick in Texas says:

    @Tony or anyone else who would care to answer. I am baffled. If a man of African ancestry gaining the nation’s highest office is not an example of “being judged not on the color of his skin, but on the content of his character”, what would be? It discourages me deeply when one takes the tone that this momentous moment does not represent the fulfillment of the dream. It sends the message that no matter what progress one makes, it will never be enough. We’ll never be good enough. And if that is what you believe, that’s OK, say so. For myself, I think extraordinary progress has been made and many people now live their lives daily in the words of the dream.

  12. HC says:

    “Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.”

    and

    “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”

  13. Glen says:

    “There is something else: that one seeks to defeat the unjust system, rather than individuals who are caught in that system. And that one goes on believing that somehow this is the important thing, to get rid of the evil system and not the individual who happens to be misguided, who happens to be misled, who was taught wrong. The thing to do is to get rid of the system and thereby create a moral balance with society.”

    and

    “ . . . A just law is a law that squares with a moral law, it is a law that squares with that which is right, so that any law that uplifts human personality is a just law. . . . An unjust law is a code that the majority inflicts on the minority that is not binding on itself. . . .An unjust law is a code which the majority inflicts upon the minority, which that minority had no part in enacting or creating. . . .Individuals who stand up on the basis of civil disobedience realize that they are following something that says that there are just laws and there are unjust laws.”

  14. Tony says:

    response to Rick:

    I’m not trying to incite a flame war by any means. I was certainly one of the millions who looked on with joy and with tears in my eyes when I witnessed President Obama’s election. This is certainly the most momentous historic event to happen in my entire life (that and of course 9/11). I am not trying to undercut the importance of this moment.

    But the word “fulfillment” implies that the dream has been brought to completion, that the issues of inequality and racism are a thing of the past. As an African-American myself, I can tell you that I regularly experience negative reactions based on my appearance. I cut my hair close, I wear clothes that fit me properly, I speak “standard English”… but still it is a reality in my life. Not to mention the myriad systemic and institutional inequalities that still exist that can squarely be attributed to race-based inequity. If you need examples, I’m sure that I can take about 5 minutes on a few news websites and give you plenty.

    So do I celebrate our new President’s election? Oh yes! I am elated at what has transpired. Do I recognize the historical significance of this event and how far we have come as a nation? Absolutely. But do I think that issues of racism have suddenly gone away? Not a chance. My experience as well as my studies have made, and continue to make, that dazzlingly clear. So if you say that Dr. King’s dream of no person being judged by the color of their skin has been brough to -completion- as the word “fulfillment” means, then you’re just not looking. While we celebrate the election of our nation’s first African-American president, we must still be active in the fight against the evil of racism. Checking a box on election day is just the beginning of this work.

  15. Just Meee~ says:

    “You have become the richest nation in the world, and you have built up the greatest system of production that history has every known. All of this is marvelous. But Americans, there is danger that you will misuse your capitalism….You are prone to judge the success of your profession by the index of your salary and the size of your wheelbase on your automobile, rather than the quality of your service to humanity….They tell me that one tenth of one percent of the population controls more than forty percent of the wealth….God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others live in abject deadening poverty. God intends for all of His children to ahve the basic necessities of life, and he has left in this universe ‘enough to spare’ for that purpose. So I call upon you to bridge the gulf between the abject poverty and the superfluous wealth.”

  16. blackwasp19 says:

    “Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true”

  17. danderson says:

    “At the core of his life, Martin Luther King Jr. was a follower of Jesus Christ. His faith in Christ informed all that he sought to do as a civil rights leader.”

    Eugene, thank you so very much for giving Jesus the place in King’s life that so often is left out in contemporary secular — and Christian — society. I just came from another Christian site where there was no mention of how Christ influenced King’s life. Kind of like the public school I work at, where King is held up in the highest regard, but there can be no mention of his faith as the passion and driving force for justice.

  18. Nathan Sweet says:

    “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
    -MLK

  19. Nourisha says:

    “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

    I love that our new multicultural society means we have friends from all walks of life and all “communities” of ethnicity. But it’s still common for us to be in the comfort of our own group and remain silent while our “friends'” ethnic groups are being verbally assaulted and disgraced. If we can’t stand against hatred/prejudice in the privacy of our groups, we can’t truly call ourselves friends.

  20. Joshua says:

    “I’m concerned about justice. I’m concerned about brotherhood. I’m concerned about truth. And when one is concerned about these, he can never advocate violence. For through violence you may murder a murderer but you can’t murder murder. Through violence you may murder a liar but you can’t establish truth. Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can’t murder hate. Darkness cannot put out darkness. Only light can do that.”–MLK

  21. [...] It’s way too easy to talk about MLK because so many people and groups of people want to own him as their own.  But they often don’t want to take ALL of him.  At the core of his life, Martin Luther King Jr. was a follower of Jesus Christ. His faith in Christ informed all that he sought to do as a civil rights leader. via eugenecho.wordpress.com [...]

  22. Matt says:

    “right defeated is stronger than evil triumphant”

    – from “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”

  23. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by emergentvillage: Who gave King the Dream? Thoughts from @EugeneCho http://bit.ly/7bmgU1 ^DH…

  24. Erick says:

    The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it…Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction…The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation. -MLK

  25. Andy M says:

    He said many great things, but I enjoyed these when I read them.

    “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
    (Strength to Love, 1963)

    “It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.”

  26. [...] to fight extreme global poverty. This blog post originally appeared on Eugene Cho’s blog on January 18, 2010. Categories: Faith and Politics, Race, Spirituality Tags: America, anticipation, Civil Rights, [...]

  27. Al Doyle says:

    “Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.” — MLK

  28. Ben@TIC says:

    I’ve posted mine at my website, encouraging teachers to change a couple of words in Dr. King’s quote to apply to themselves

  29. [...] celebrating martin luther king, jr…and acknowledging the Giver of such dreams… (eugenecho.com) [...]

  30. [...] celebrating martin luther king, jr…and acknowledging the Giver of such dreams… (eugenecho.com) [...]

  31. [...] celebrating martin luther king, jr…and acknowledging the Giver of such dreams… (eugenecho.com) [...]

  32. Pam C. says:

    “A religion true to its nature must also be concerned about man’s social conditions….Any religion that professes to be concerned with the souls of men and is not concerned with the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them is a dry-as-dust religion.”

  33. [...] day after this nation (and many in the global community) celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We march, share inspiring quotes, and listen to compelling [...]

  34. Scott M says:

    Here’s a good quote from Dr. King Jr:

    “…this uncritical attitude could not last long, for it was contrary to the very nature of my being. I had always been the questioning and precocious type. At the age of 13 I shocked my Sunday School class by denying the bodily resurrection of Jesus. From the age of thirteen on doubts began to spring forth unrelentingly.”

    My, what a Christian thing to say!

    Pastor Cho wrote:

    “At the core of his life, Martin Luther King Jr. was a follower of Jesus Christ.”

    Not sure which Jesus Christ that is, but it most certainly is not the same Jesus I worship.

    Martin Luther King Jr was NOT a Christian and he hated the gospel as it was originally portrayed in the Bible.

    He didn’t believe in the resurrection of Christ nor did he believe in the virgin birth -both of which are fundamental to the foundation of any believer’s faith. He also believed that the Bible was full of errors and as true Christians we know that this is not true. He mainly went to church because of familial obligation to his family, mainly his sister.

    I’m not knocking what he may have done for civil rights and all that, but to claim he was a true follower of Jesus Christ couldn’t be further from the truth.

    Do your research people!

  35. […] celebrating martin luther king, jr…and acknowledging the Giver of such dreams… (eugenecho.com) […]

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