Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr. models faith of a neighbor

Photo by javacolleen. Licensed via Creative Commons.

"Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds."

-Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, 1963
King penetrates me with these words.

I quoted them last September in my post Indivisibility: the American Superpower. I sent them to Renata Soto a year ago as she was preparing her MLK Day speech to Maryville College. King's words inspired the video I made for called "See," which starts out like this:
See the neighbor in every name.
See the friend in every face.
Amplifying the definition of "neighbor" - rather than narrowing it - is the lesson Jesus taught in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

It is no wonder that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a preacher.

And it is no wonder that Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, stepping side by side with King in Selma, saw his presence there as a religious experience, saying, "Our march was worship."

Sometimes we struggle with bringing our faith into the day-to-day. For those of us who are struggling - all of us, perhaps - King, Heschel, and those who march with them model a faith in practice.

God calls us to faith that sees our neighbors as such, a faith that makes adjustments where others have not.

This faith speaks out, but with respect, dignity, and nonviolence.
"You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor." - James 3:18 (The Message)
May we all have - and practice - this faith of a neighbor.

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