Each year the third Monday of January rolls around and we pause to celebrate the extraordinary 39 year life of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Very rarely are we gifted with a leader whose message has such longevity and widespread impact on society. 48 years after his tragic assassination, King’s words transcend time and speak prophetic truth into our present reality; beckoning us to a higher way. MLK held a deep belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and subsequently that all life is intrinsically connected. He understood that in reality there is no gulf between the spiritual and the social, but rather they in fact they go hand in hand. King said,
"In a real sense all life is inter-related. All persons are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the inter-related structure of reality."
The myth that one can exist without the other is incredibly toxic. Too often our attempts to be holy apart from social engagement inevitably have lead us to legalism and disconnection, while social action apart from the Spirit of God can easily morph into self-centered promotion. Dr. King’s ultimate vision was to see the Kingdom of God come and manifest itself in what he called the “beloved community”. He identified the “beloved community” as an inclusive movement, that invites all people to be unified by love and to creatively address the challenges facing our world. When we open the newspaper or drive around the block, we are often assaulted with the brokenness and overwhelming challenges existing in our world. Today the Flint community is facing an unprecedented water crisis, with no end in sight. This latest crisis is yet another wound to a city that has struggled to deal with the effects of deindustrialization, government corruption, racial division, unemployment, blight and violent crime just to name a few. To make matters worse, we live in an era of incredible polarization and division, where discord is the norm. It is exactly during times like this that we need to be reminded of Dr. King’s vision of the “beloved community” and our interdependence. Mother Teresa said, “If we have no peace it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Building on the same theme, King reminds us that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” As we strive to form the beloved community, may we be reminded of Jesus’ prayer for his followers in John 17, that we “may be one”. May we renew our commitment to stand side-by-side with our neighbor in solidarity, as we strive to be a manifestation of creative good in the face of despair. And finally, may we never lose hope that one day “We will get to the promised land”, and that we must get there together.
Matthew Soulia | Executive Director | Forge Flint
If you or your church want to get involved in responding to the “Flint Water Crisis” please e-mail us for up to the minute ways to engage.