Who was the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? We have all heard the speeches, seen the movies and read the books. We all think we know who he was because of all the publicity about him. But do we really know who he was? I never met him, never sat in his presence and never had a personal conversation with him. But as I consider this man through all he has done, there are certain characteristics that stand out:
• He was a black man dealing with the issues of black people.
• He was a father, husband, son, relative and friend to others.
• He was educated, wise, and religious.
• He chose to be a follower of God and a servant of Jesus Christ.
• He chose to stand up for the civil rights of black people.
• He chose to live his life for a cause.
• He chose to risk death defending what he believed.
• He chose to be a drum major for God.
We can spend time looking at who Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was and continue to celebrate what he did and accomplished, but better still to look beyond who he was and instead look at what he chose to do with his life. We all start out life as somebody’s child, somebody’s spouse or somebody’s friend. We should all educate ourselves for a job or career to provide for ourselves and family. But beyond that point, there is a place where we find our calling. It introduces itself to us and asks us to follow. It is our choice whether or not to follow. Our calling is what we were made for; it is our destiny. Either we answer this calling or we do not. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., heard his calling and answered it. We could spend time in this holiday debating the minute matters of what he did and how successful it was. If we do that it will leave us frozen in time, reminiscing on the past. It is better still to look at what he chose to do with his life. That is the essences of who he was. Yes, he chose to fight for his own people’s freedom and better their plight in America. But look further. He chose to follow God’s will for his life. If we examine Martin’s life and story and miss that, we have missed the greatest lesson he left us. Not everyone will be educated like Martin or speak like he did. There are some gifting given specifically for that person and his calling. But we can all be like Martin. Martin was a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ and he chose to live his life and give his life for that devotion. We can all do that. That is the story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He chose to follow God.
We cannot afford to live our lives hung up on the story or grief about the loss of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He lived his life. His death is not the end of the story. He left a legacy for others to follow. Choose to do what he did. He was a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. If you want to be as great as Martin, then go beyond Martin to the One he served. Choose to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, who gives real freedom. Dr. King chose to be defined as a drum major. “Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. (Amen) Say that I was a drum major for peace. (Yes) I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.” He went on to explain true greatness in his Drum Major Instinct Sermon:
“And this morning, the thing that I like about it: by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, (Everybody) because everybody can serve. (Amen) You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. (All right) You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. (Amen) You only need a heart full of grace, (Yes, sir, Amen) a soul generated by love. (Yes) And you can be that servant.” Christ Jesus said:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. Joh 14:12
Dr. King was a great man and he did a great work. Nothing that he did can be taken away from him and he deserves honor and accolades for his work. But let’s not stop at Martin. Go on to do what God has for you to do; it could be more than what Martin did. Greater works are yet to be done by those that will go beyond celebrating the greatness that was Martin to following the Lord Jesus Christ. In celebration of this holiday, why not read in its entirety his last sermon,
“The Drum Major Instinct”, February 4, 1968: http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/documentsentry/doc_the_drum_major_instinct/.
Happy MLK Day