Still thinking about Martin Luther King Jr., I remembered my favorite lines from his “I Have a Dream” speech delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, to over 200,000 civil rights supporters:
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
What stuck me this year about this quote was that it’s not just about race relations. It’s not just an inspiring quote to drag out once a year to honor a great man or to stir the crowd at a civil rights rally. It applies to how each of us lives . . . every day.
Jesus said, “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment” (John 7:24 NIV).
Until recently, I sometimes found this to be hard. I mean, I’m not a particularly prejudiced person. I have learned that–under the skin–we are all the same in a lot of ways. However, there are times when a person’s outward appearance is pretty hard to overlook!
Recently, I stumbled upon a helpful strategy for relating to annoying, embarrassing people. (I’m sure the Holy Spirit had something to do with it.) I learned to back off momentarily and consider the person’s spirit. Seeing genuine kindness in a toothless, unkempt woman, and enthusiasm in a motor-mouthed man, had a surprising effect on my attitude toward them. I actually started to . . . kind of like them.
And that’s how God sees us, thankfully. He sees our hearts. He sees something good in each of our hearts. When we give our lives to Christ, we are capable of the same love for others.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28 NIV).
Dr. King followed the cadences (and one phrase) from this scripture in the last paragraph of his speech:
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”