Faith story shared by Meredith Hurt, church council president and member of the anti-racism team
Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Just saying his name can stir up feelings in people. People speak of him in his role as civil right leader, a religious leader, a gifted writer and unparalleled orator. It is difficult to reflect upon his words and actions, the terrible things he had to endure and live through and not be inspired by them and him.
However, those are not the things I think about when I think of Dr. King. I think, mainly, about him being a human man and all the flaws that go with being a human being of faith.
I know that there have been times when I have doubted the good in the world around me. I’m not sure I always hold my faith in my fellow man as strongly as I should.
But then again…Dr. King had his doubts at times too. About how he had to hold on to his faith both tightly and loosely in order to survive the world he lived in. Sometimes, especially in his earlier years, he wasn’t sure he was on the right path or even what was the right path. So instead, he put his faith into the ideas that he would plant in others would grow—and these new believers would show him and us all the way. He had to have faith that the the community he was growing would come together and achieve things no one had imagined were possible.
He had to have faith that some of things he believed in wouldn’t be achievable in his lifetime but that one day, they would come true. He had to believe as Jesus believed that the words said today may fall on fallow ground at times, but also fall on fertile soil and grow into the trees that eagles make their nests in.
That is some strong faith.
I get angry about the injustices I see, the willful ignorance of others, the causal spreading of misinformation to benefit the powerful at the expense of others.
But, then again…Dr. King was angry too. He spoke often of his anger– at the world he found himself surrounded by. Anger that others were not helping those who couldn’t help themselves. Human anger—because anger can remind us that faith is not passive; it is not always quiet. It can move us, burn us up and be very powerful.
I have to think Dr. King knew that even Jesus himself, several times, demonstrated his anger. Marching into the synagogue and flipping over tables. This was no subtle walk and gently tipping it over. This was a full on power march and NJ Real Housewife full table flip—coins flying the air, disrupting the usual order of things. That power, in knowing that what was happening was wrong, gave strength to Jesus’ and Dr. King’s message: What is happening here is wrong. We can do better—Let’s do it together.
I make mistakes—a lot of them—in times when I could have said something or done something to help another. And in doing so may have hurt another person.
But, then again…Dr. King made mistakes at times. He didn’t always treat everyone with kindness and calmness. He couldn’t be all things to all people, and some people were disappointed when he couldn’t be what they wanted him to be at the time. Making mistakes helps reminds us that no one person can be all things to all people – it is impossible and beating ourselves up when we fail does not help the next person in need.
Because Jesus was human, too. He became man to live as we do with mistakes and fears and doubts. And he gathered around himself a community of people so that no one person had to take his place, so there were many to continue to build upon the foundation of his love for all of us.
So you see, when I think of Dr. King of think of the flawed human being—or to be more accurate, a human being who even flawed held his faith up for others to see. That is what influences me in own life of faith. For no matter how flawed I may be, God’s faith in me is not.