“So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." … I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.” – “I Have A Dream” delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on August 28, 1963
As you reflect on these words so thoughtfully articulated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. decades ago, perhaps you, like me, realize his dream has yet to come true. After the inhumane death of George Floyd and many others, maybe your heart is also breaking, seeing that so many years later we still long for that dream.
First, we must know that our hurt, our anger, is justified. God seeks for justice (Psalm 89:14; Psalm 33:5) so unjust treatment of any kind breaks His heart, too. The Bible even has examples of responding to offenses against God with anger (Matthew 21:12). God understands the pain plaguing our hearts because He’s experienced it. Christ was unjustly treated, even to the point of death.
In our sin-filled world, the idea of change for good can seem so far out of reach, but progression toward Dr. King’s dream is possible. So, while we may still be dreaming of a future yet to come, we are not dreaming without hope. Hope in the glory that lies ahead beyond our current suffering (Romans 8:18) and hope in the ability to create change for the better now. Let’s allow this rightful anger – an anger that seeks for restoration – to move us toward action that will create a better future.
Here’s what you and I can do today that leads to a better tomorrow:
Choose to Listen
We can hear the cries of my fellow African American brothers and sisters and others who are oppressed and ill-treated. We can seek their perspective and the perspective of others. We can see the truth and acknowledge the sin that’s perpetuating the pain. We can weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). The Bible shows us that sin has long caused division in this world, yet we as believers are charged with living at peace with everyone (Hebrews 12:14). To truly obtain reconciliation, we must not overlook injustice but eradicate its roots. Only then can we experience peace with others. Let us pray for eyes to see and ears to hear.
Choose to Learn
Instead of shying away from our differences, we can educate ourselves on them. Let us learn from our nation’s tainted history and not be afraid to ask the tough questions about racial injustice, always seeking gospel answers. It’s our God-designed uniqueness – gifts and talents, as well as, diverse backgrounds and upbringings – that help shape our contributions to society and our service in the kingdom (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Praying for peace is much needed, but let’s also ask God to help us learn how we can create it. Then as we learn, we must teach our children so they can teach theirs and so on.
Choose to Love
Jesus loved freely. He saw each person as a bearer of God’s image, created equally in His eyes. In fact, He intentionally interacted with people that were not like Him so that their sense of belonging would lead to their belief. Isn’t it interesting how we often do the opposite? We tend to evaluate a person’s background and beliefs before we decide if they belong. What if instead we chose to love like Jesus – treating others with the same kindness, concern and care that we seek for ourselves? That’s how we truly love our neighbors as our self (Matthew 22:39-40). That’s how we truly represent Jesus and draw others to Him. Only God can change hearts and changed hearts lead to changed habits – that’s the real hope for a brighter future.
Broken people make up this broken world. But let us not lose heart and let us not lose hope. Let’s instead hold on to Dr. King’s dream and do what we can to create a better tomorrow. Our great Redeemer can redeem the greatest of tragedies. After all, “He’s got the whole world in His hands.” He always has. He always will.