Martin Luther King Jr. represented essential Christian values

King exemplified leadership, courage and Christ-like character throughout his life.

Hannah Dilanchyan, Opinions Editor

“I still believe that standing up for the truth of God is the greatest thing in the world. This is the end of life. The end of life is not to be happy. The end of life is not to achieve pleasure and avoid pain. The end of life is to do the will of God, come what may,” said Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in a sermon at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in 1956.

On the third Monday of January, the United States nationally commemorates the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. He was a civil rights leader, a voice against injustice, and, most importantly, a God-honoring man. 

King starkly contrasts other civil rights leaders, both in the present day and in the past. While civil rights leaders share the same end goal of ending racial discrimination, they sought to achieve racial reconilitaion differently. Take civil rights leader Malcom X, for example. He wanted to further Islam in the Black community while King fought to promote Christian values. 

Today, minority communities in the U.S. still fight for equality, but extreme organizations like Black Lives Matter strayed incredibly far from King’s message. King prioritized nonviolent protests and logical discussions rather than violent protests and heated debates, Newsweek writes. He wanted to see people of all skin colors living together in harmony and in love—a desire shared by Christians as a reflection of the heavenly, eternal kingdom. 

REAL WAYS TO LIVE THIS OUT

King showed impressive leadership as he inspired large crowds to engage in the civil rights movement. Nearly 250,000 people attended his “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C. People respected him. He was educated and eloquent, confident and passionate, Penn State writes. These attributes dwell within a leader. Christians should strive to possess these qualities to lead others to Christ, to justice and to love.

Courage is one of King’s characteristics that stands out most. He continued to lead the civil rights movement without backing down, even under threat from the FBI or public opinion. King preached his message to Americans until his last breath, refusing to let fear of man or even death, end his duty.

The most important way Christians can imitate King is by following Christ. The Gospel Coalition writes that “King’s principal arguments for desegregation pivoted on ideas that are much less popular in the United States than they were a half-century ago, for they essentially reasoned from theological ethics, specifically natural law, the concept of imago Dei, and agape love.” Having the biblical foundation that all people are created in the image of God and are loved is essential to beginning the quest for justice.

A LONG-LASTING LEGACY

Dr. King’s admirable efforts to ensure that we become and remain a nation where an individual is judged based on the content of his character, not the color of his skin, is well known by most Americans,” Dr. Ben Carson writes. Carson says that while today’s political agenda surrounding race and civil justice can be “diabolical,” King’s message was different. 

“All Americans should likewise continue the fight for Dr. King’s dream, and oppose any efforts that would threaten its beautiful message. We are a people forged by revolution against tyranny and injustice, and like Dr. King, we must never relent in pursuing that just society,” Carson writes. Having a courageous heart, leading others, and imitating Christ helps to commemorate King and continue his legacy through looking to his example.

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