Today, America remembers Martin Luther King Jr. We will remember him as great American. We will remember him as a great African-American. If you are like me, you’ll find a video of his amazing speech on August 28, 1963 in Washington D.C. where he declared to the world he had a dream. Like me, you might very well get goose bumps with the words, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
These words ought to remind us that Martin Luther King Jr. isn’t just an African-American or an American, he is also, more importantly, a Christian. My guess is that this fact will not be lauded by television pundits, nor emphasized in our schools. Rather, I expect it to be largely ignored, despite the fact that without Christ, MLK never would have dared to dream:
There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. — Galatians 3:28
For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” — Romans 10:12-13
Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all! — Colossians 3:9-11
St. Paul reminds us that God became a human being and in so doing shared in our very nature. This nature is not exclusive, but rather is radically universal. In Christ, it is no longer possible to categorize, separate or differentiate — we all are human regardless of our backgrounds, our birth, our strengths, our weaknesses, our skin color, our language or our culture.
Without Christ, this radical equality falls apart. The obvious and objective inequalities of the world too easily rear their ugly heads and it becomes second nature to use these inequalities to justify the superiority of one class over the inferiority of another. When we accept the reality of Christ — of God Incarnate — it is finally possible to have a standard by which to say:
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.”
It is possible to dare to dream that we all might one day cry out, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” Amen.