Now I encourage you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Agree with each other and don’t be divided into rival groups. Instead, be restored with the same mind and the same purpose.
1 Corinthians 1:10 (CEB)
The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists will we be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?
It’s been nearly 52 years since the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. While during his life King and those who marched with him were subject to violence, arrest, and constant criticism, after his death King was moved into the pantheon of American heroes. King’s legacy remains often hilariously misunderstood, however, just as our own understandings of what equality, justice, and the work we have yet to do are often lacking.
It’s worth taking time this week to read or re-read through “Birmingham Jail” or watch and listen to the man himself and reacquaint ourselves with the brilliant, realistic yet optimistic, discouraged yet faithful leader who risked everything he had to secure the civil rights of others. It’s good to do this particularly at a time when it seems much easier to divide and separate than to keep pressing toward an equitable future together.
When Paul encouraged the church in Corinth to share the “same mind and same purpose” and stop their quarreling, I don’t think Paul believed they could literally move toward thinking and doing identically, nor do I believe this is what Paul or anyone else would want. My prayer for us at Flemington UMC and throughout our greater connection is that we can pause and reflect on the ways we are united without any expectation of uniformity; I pray we can see ourselves connected where it counts and open to understanding one another in our differences everywhere else. I share King’s hope that the “arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
Grace and Peace,