This week marks the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's monumental 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington, D.C.
In his speech, Dr. King reached back to the basic values of Americans, calling on the nation to honor the promise of "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" made in our Declaration of Independence. He looked forward to the day when segregation evaporated and people of different races could unite together as friends. And he expressed his vision of equality, where a person would be judged by the content of his character rather than his skin color.
Dr. King's speech electrified the nation. Within a few years, the Civil Rights laws passed ending legal segregation. More importantly, people began to see the ugliness of racism and the atmosphere of the country began to change. For most Americans, hatred and bigotry have been replaced by acceptance and tolerance. Opportunity opened up for minorities, and a black man was finally elected president of the U.S. While pockets of bigotry remain in both black and white communities, we are closing in on Dr. King's dream of a colorblind society.
The key to understanding Dr. King's astonishing accomplishment is to understand who Dr. King really was. Dr. King lived his life as a Christian pastor, committed to Christ and the biblical way of living. While many called for violent revolution, Dr. King told his followers to take the nonviolent path and turn the other cheek as Christ did. He understood the power of blessing and not cursing his enemies, and in the end he won many of them over. By following his Christian principles, Dr. King changed the atmosphere of the nation and won a great victory not only for his people, but for all people.
Today it is the Bible-believing Christians who are becoming an oppressed minority. Christian institutions like marriage are being degraded as the sexual revolution reaches its "Anything Goes" conclusion. The resulting fatherlessness has created poverty, despair and violence in our communities as godless generations come of age. Christianity is banished from the public square in many places, and its values are attacked as ignorant and outdated. Our spiritual atmosphere is becoming toxic, and we are desperately in need of another Christian like Dr. King to change our atmosphere.
Instead of cursing the darkness, as many do, we should follow the path laid out by Christ and followed by Dr. King. Let us bless and not curse our enemies, seeking reconciliation and unity, and winning them over by love.
We can change our atmosphere if we do it God's way.
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